A sobering statistical report from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) showed the number of abortions in Nebraska increased by 3% in 2017.

There were 1,958 reported abortions in Nebraska last year, up from 1,907 in 2016. This represents a ratio of 74.7 abortions per 1,000 live births in 2017 compared to 70.4 in 2016.

The Nebraska DHHS releases a statistical report of abortions each year. While the number of abortions in Nebraska increased from 2016 to 2017, abortions in our state have still decreased by 68 percent since 1980.

Thinking about the individual baby and mother behind each number makes the annual report a somber and tragic read, but can also provide Nebraska citizens and lawmakers valuable insight into this critical issue.

According to the 2017 report, the number one reason for abortion was no contraception (52.7%), followed by “declined to answer” (29.6%) and contraceptive failure (10.5%). Other reasons include socio-economic (4.2%) and mental health (1.7%).

Notably, chemical abortions made up 55% of all abortions last year, increasing by 14% from 956 in 2016 to 1,086 in 2017.

The age of the patient at which abortions occurred most frequently in 2017 was 22 years old. 23.7% of women responded as having had one previous abortion while 66.5% had no previous abortions.

Every life lost to abortion is a tragedy, but Nebraskans should remain hopeful. Last year pro-life laws began to be passed again after a 5 year drought.

Significantly, even though there was a 3% increase in the total number of abortions, abortions due to fetal anomaly decreased by 27%, dropping from 22 in 2016 to 16 in 2017. The presence of fetal anomalies now make up less than 1% of all abortions.

While this decrease could be for a variety of reasons, the Nebraska Legislature passed a NFA supported bill into law last year specifically designed to help women and families chose life when an unborn child is diagnosed with a fetal anomaly.

When given a serious or life-limiting medical diagnosis during the early stages of a pregnancy, parents are given few options. Unfortunately, most women and their families are not aware of the compassionate care available to them through perinatal hospice services and choose to terminate the pregnancy.

The “Compassion & Care for Medically Challenging Pregnancies Act” was signed into law in April of 2017, and encourages physicians to provide women with information about the loving option of perinatal hospice care when a lethal fetal anomaly is diagnosed.

Instead of terminating the pregnancy, perinatal hospice helps families make memories that last a lifetime and gives the child a chance to meet their parents before they have to say goodbye.

More pregnant women diagnosed with a lethal fetal anomaly would have been informed about perinatal hospice care at the time of diagnosis for the second half of 2017, and the bill generated widespread media attention helping create a tremendous wave of newfound awareness about perinatal hospice care beginning in the start of 2017.

This is just one area we are seeing the positive impact a culture of life can have on families. NFA remains committed to loving both the mother and her child while protecting life it all its forms.

Nate Grasz

Nate Grasz

Policy Director
Nate is the Policy Director at Nebraska Family Alliance and host of the Capitol Report program.