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U.S. Abortion Statistics
Facts and figures relating to the frequency of abortion in the United States.
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 2010 (the most recent year for which CDC data is available), California, Maryland, and New Hampshire did not provide abortion reports to the federal government. Since California has not complied with CDC requests for abortion data in many years, and since California accounts for more abortions than any other state in the U.S, CDC totals are routinely incomplete. AGI, on the other hand, is the research arm of Planned Parenthood, the world's largest abortion provider. While their data is helpful, they are a much less neutral source. 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
- In 2011, approximately 1.06 million abortions took place in the U.S., down from an estimated 1.21 million abortions in 2008, 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 have occurred in the U.S. (AGI).
- Based on available state-level data, an estimated 1.04 million abortions took place in 2012—down from an estimated 1.16 million abortions in 2009 and 1.13 million abortions in 2010.
- 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).
- The 2011 abortion rates by state ranged from a low of 3.8 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 in Mississippi (Wyoming had too few abortions for reliable tabulation) to a high of 28.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 in New York (AGI).
- 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).
- In 2011, 17% of legal induced abortions were performed 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
- In 2005, the abortion rate in the United States was higher than recent rates reported for Canada and Western European countries and lower than rates reported for China, Cuba, the majority of Eastern European countries, and certain Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union (CDC).
- Half of pregnancies among American women are unintended; about 4 in 10 of these are terminated by abortion. Twenty-one percent of all U.S. pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion. (AGI).
WHO HAS ABORTIONS?
- In 2010, 85% of all abortions were performed on unmarried women (CDC).
- 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 2010, 55.6% of abortions were performed on women who had not aborted in the past; 36.7% were performed on women with one or two prior abortions, and 7.7% were performed on women with three or more prior abortions (CDC).
- Among women who obtained abortions in 2010, 40.3% had no prior live births; 45.9% had one or two prior live births, and 13.8% had three or more prior live births (CDC).
- Women between the ages of 20-24 obtained 32.9% of all abortions in 2010; women between 25-29 obtained 24.5% (CDC).
- Women in their 20's have the highest abortion rates. In 2010, women aged 20-24 had 27.4 abortions for every one thousand 20-24 year-old women. Women aged 25-29 had 20.4 abortions for every one thousand 25-29 year-old women (CDC).
- 51% of U.S. women obtaining abortions are younger than 25; women aged 20-24 obtain 33% of all U.S. abortions, and teenagers obtain 18% (AGI).
- In 2010, adolescents under 15 years obtained .05% of all abortions, but had the highest abortion ratio, 851 abortions for every 1,000 live births (CDC).
- Black women were 3.7 times more likely to have an abortion in 2010 than non-Hispanic 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).
- At current rates, nearly one-third of American women will have an abortion (AGI).
WHY ARE ABORTIONS PERFORMED?
- 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 2010, 6.9% of all abortions were performed at 14-20 weeks' gestation; 1.2% were performed at ≥21 weeks' gestation (CDC).
- Percentage of 2010 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 37.8% 19.3% 14.6% 9.8% 6.7% 5.1% 3.9% 2.9% 3.3% 1.8% 1.8% 1.2%
*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 ARE ABORTIONS PERFORMED?
- In 2010, 80.5% of reported abortions were performed by curettage (which includes dilatation and evacuation). Most curettage abortions are suction procedures (CDC).
- Medical abortions made up approximately 17.8% of all abortions reported (CDC).
- Ninety-six per cent of the more than 140,000 second-trimester
abortions performed annually in the USA are accomplished by the
technique of dilation and evacuation (D&E) (NAF).
WHO IS PERFORMING 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 2009, 8 women died as a result of complications from known legal induced abortion; From 1973-2009, 411 women have diad 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).
- Condom use confers protection against STIs, but it does not provide
top-tier protection from pregnancy because of breakage, slippage,
inconsistent use, and low continuation rates (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).
NEXT PAGE: Canadian Abortion Statistics
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)
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