Estimating the Number of Abortions in France, 1976-2002

Debate on the future of the discipline
By Clémentine Rossier, Claudine Pirus, Roger Depledge


How has the number of abortions in metropolitan France varied since 1975? The sources of abortion data (notification forms established in 1975 and hospital statistics since the mid-1990s) do not agree. Given the incomplete nature of the notification form data, INED previously produced estimates of the total number: 250,000 abortions in 1976, 262,000 in 1980, 230,000 in 1987 and 225,000 in 1993. According to the hospital statistics, elective abortions totalled 180,500 in 1994 and 206,500 in 2003. We show that the trend-line indicated by the INED estimates (fall in the 1980s and stability in the early 1990s) appears to be correct. We also show that the rise in the number of abortions recorded in hospital statistics in the late 1990s appears to be a statistical artefact caused by improved data collection.

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