The number of "partial-birth" abortions has tripled in the past four years, according to a report on abortion trends released this week.
An estimated 2,200 dilation and extraction, or D&X, abortions were conducted in 2000, said researchers with the Alan Guttmacher Institute, who surveyed all known U.S. abortion providers during the past two years.
In 1996, institute researchers estimated that there had been 650 D&X abortions, which are performed on fetuses older than 20 weeks. Opponents of the procedure call it partial-birth abortion because in some cases the fetus is old enough to survive outside the womb.
The 2,200 D&X abortions account for 0.17 percent of abortions, said institute researchers Lawrence B. Finer and Stanley K. Henshaw. Moreover, the 2,200 figure "should be interpreted cautiously because projections based on such small numbers are subject to error," they wrote.