Primary, nationwide abortion statistics for the United States are available from two sources—privately from the Guttmacher Institute (AGI) and publicly from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In recent years, California, Maryland, and New Hampshire have not publicly released their abortion totals—rendering the CDC numbers incomplete. The following information has been gleaned from both sources to provide an overview of the frequency and demography of abortion. Additional, secondary statistics have been taken from the National Abortion Federation's (NAF) 2009 teaching text on abortion, Management of Unintended and Abnormal Pregnancy: Comprehensive Abortion Care.
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ANNUAL ABORTION STATISTICS
- Based on available state-level data, an estimated 954,000 abortions took place in 2014—down from approximately 983,000 abortions in 2013 and 1.02 million abortions in 2012.
- In 2011, 1.06 million abortions took place in the U.S., down from 1.21 million abortions in 2008, 1.2 million in 2005, 1.29 million in 2002, 1.31 million in 2000 and 1.36 million in 1996. From 1973 through 2011, nearly 53 million legal abortions occurred in the U.S. (AGI).
- Twenty-one percent of all U.S. pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion. (AGI).
- In 2011, the highest number of reported abortions occurred in California (181,730), New York (138,370) and Florida (84,990); the fewest occurred in Wyoming (120), South Dakota (600) and North Dakota (1,250) (AGI).
- Mississippi had the lowest abortion rate in 2011 (Wyoming had too few abortions for reliable tabulation), and New York had the highest (AGI). There were approximately 17.5 births for every abortion in Mississippi and approximately 2.3 births for every abortion in New York.
- The annual number of legal induced abortions in the United States doubled between 1973 and 1979, and peaked in 1990. There was a slow but steady decline through the 1990's. Overall, the number of annual abortions decreased by 6% between 2000 and 2009, with temporary spikes in 2002 and 2006 (CDC).
- From 2012 to 2013, the total number, rate, and ratio of reported abortions decreased 5% (CDC).
- In 2011, 17% of legal induced abortions occurred in California (AGI).
- The US abortion rate is similar to those of Australia, New Zealand, and Sweden but higher than those of other Western European countries (NAF).
WHO HAS ABORTIONS?
- In 2013, unmarried women accounted for 85.2% of all abortions (CDC).
- Women in their 20s accounted for the majority of abortions in 2013 and had the highest abortion rates (CDC).
- Adolescents under 15 years obtained .03% of all 2013 abortions; women aged 15–19 years accounted for 11.4% (CDC).
- Percentage of 2013 Reported Abortions by Age of Mother* (CDC):
<15 years 15–19 years 20–24 years 25–29 years 30–34 years 35–39 years ≥40 years 0.3% 11.4% 32.7% 25.9% 16.8% 9.2% 3.6% <15 years 15–19 years 20–24 years 25–29 years 0.3% 11.4% 32.7% 25.9% 30–34 years 35–39 years ≥40 years 16.8% 9.2% 3.6%
- Women living with a partner to whom they are not married account for 25% of abortions but only about 10% of women in the population (NAF).
- In 2013, women who had not aborted in the past accounted for 55% of all abortions; women with one or two prior abortions accounted for 36.2%, and women with three or more prior abortions accounted for 8.8% (CDC).
- Among women who obtained abortions in 2013, 40.2% had no prior live births; 45.6% had one or two prior live births, and 14.1% had three or more prior live births (CDC).
- Black women were 3.75 times more likely to have an abortion in 2013 than white women (CDC).
- The abortion rate of non-metropolitan women is about half that of women who live in metropolitan counties (NAF).
- The abortion rate of women with Medicaid coverage is three times as high as that of other women (NAF).
- 37% of women obtaining abortions identify themselves as Protestant, and 28% identify themselves as Catholic (AGI).
WHY DO ABORTIONS OCCUR?
- On average, women give at least 3 reasons for choosing abortion: 3/4 say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities; about 3/4 say they cannot afford a child; and 1/2 say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner (AGI).
- Only 12% of women included a physical problem with their health among reasons for having an abortion (NAF).
- One per cent (of aborting women) reported that they were the survivors of rape (NAF).
WHEN DO ABORTIONS OCCUR?
- 89-92% of all abortions happen during the first trimester, prior to the 13th week of gestation (AGI/CDC).
- In 2013, 7.1% of all abortions occurred between 14-20 weeks' gestation; 1.3% occurred ≥21 weeks' gestation (CDC).
- Percentage of 2013 Reported Abortions by Weeks of Gestation* (CDC):
≤6 wks 7 wks 8 wks 9 wks 10 wks 11 wks 12 wks 13 wks 14-15 wks 16-17 wks 18-20 wks ≥21 wks 34.6% 17.9% 13.4% 8.6% 5.8% 4.7% 3.6% 2.8% 3.4% 1.9% 1.8% 1.3% ≤6 wks 7 wks 8 wks 9 wks 10 wks 11 wks 12 wks 34.6% 17.9% 13.4% 8.6% 5.8% 4.7% 3.6% 13 wks 14-15 wks 16-17 wks 18-20 wks ≥21 wks 2.8% 3.4% 1.9% 1.8% 1.3%
*Gestational weeks are measured from the first day of the woman's last menstruation and not from the day of conception. Though it does not provide an accurate fetal age (which is roughly 2 weeks less than the gestational age), it is the simplest way for an OB/GYN to age a pregnancy since the day of conception is often not known. Hence, if an abortion occurs at 8 weeks gestation, it is actually aborting a 6 week embryo. The images on our Prenatal Development and Abortion Pictures pages are more precisely captioned with fetal ages in accordance with standard teaching texts on prenatal development.
HOW DOES ABORTION TAKE PLACE?
- In 2013, 76.5% of reported abortions were accomplished by curettage (which includes dilatation and evacuation). Most curettage abortions are suction procedures (CDC).
- Medical abortions made up approximately 22.2% of all abortions reported in 2013 (CDC).
- Ninety-six per cent of the more than 140,000 second-trimester abortions that occur annually in the USA are accomplished by dilation and evacuation (D&E) (NAF).
WHO IS DOING THE ABORTIONS?
- The number of abortion providers declined by 4% between 2008 and 2011—from 1,793 to 1,720 (AGI).
- Forty-two percent of providers offer very early abortions (during the first four weeks’ gestation) and 95% offer abortion at eight weeks. Sixty-four percent of providers offer at least some second-trimester abortion services (13 weeks or later), and 20% offer abortion after 20 weeks. Eleven percent of all abortion providers offer abortions past 24 weeks (AGI).
- Most abortions in the USA are provided in freestanding clinics; in 2005, only 5% occurred in hospitals, down from 22% in 1980, and only 2% took place in physician's offices (NAF).
- In 2012, four women died as a result of complications from known legal induced abortion; between 1973-2012, 427 women have died as a result of legal abortion (CDC).
- The number of deaths attributable to legal induced abortion was highest before the 1980s (CDC).
- In 1972 (the year before abortion was federally legalized), a total of 24 women died from causes known to be associated with legal abortions, and 39 died as a result of known illegal abortions (CDC).
THE COST OF ABORTION
- In 2009, the average cost of a nonhospital abortion with local anesthesia at 10 weeks of gestation was $451 (AGI).
- In 2011, 59% of abortion providers, or 1,023 facilities, provided one or more types of medical abortions. At least 17% of abortion providers offer only medication abortion services (AGI).
- Medication abortion accounted for 23% of all nonhospital abortions in 2011 (AGI).
ABORTION AND CONTRACEPTION
- Induced abortions usually result from unintended pregnancies, which often occur despite the use of contraception (CDC).
- 51% of women having abortions used a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant. (AGI).
- 8% of women having abortions have never used a method of birth control (AGI).
- 9 in 10 women at risk of unintended pregnancy are using a contraceptive method (AGI).
- Oral contraceptives, the most widely used reversible method of contraception, carry failure rates of 6 to 8% in actual practice (NAF).
ABORTION AND MINORS
- 40% of minors having an abortion report that neither of their parents knew about the abortion (AGI).
- 39 states currently enforce parental consent or notification laws for minors seeking an abortion: AL, AK, AR, AZ, CO, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WI, WV, and WY. The Supreme Court ruled that minors must have the alternative of seeking a court order authorizing the procedure (AGI).
ABORTION AND PUBLIC FUNDS
- The U.S. Congress has barred the use of federal Medicaid funds to pay for abortions, except when the woman's life would be endangered by a full-term pregnancy or in cases of rape or incest (AGI).
- 17 states (AK, AZ, CA, CT, HI, IL, MA, MD, MN, MT, NJ, NM, NY, OR, VT, WA and WV) use public funds to pay for abortions for some poor women. About 14% of all abortions in the United States are paid for with public funds—virtually all from the state (AGI).
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For Further Study:
- State Abortion Facts: Comparative state abortion stats by rank, total, percentage, and clinics.
- Contrary to Popular Opinion, America Already Has an “Extreme” Position on Abortion (Abort73 Blog)
- Where We’re Going; Where We’ve Been: Abortion in Japan, Rwanda and the United States (Abort73 Blog)
- The Moral Dilemma of Repeat Abortion (Abort73 Blog)
- The Blind Leading the Blind: America’s Awkward Entry Into Chinese Abortion Policy (Abort73 Blog)