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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). Guttmacher’s numbers, published every three years, come from direct surveys of all known and suspected abortion providers in the United States. The CDC numbers, published annually, are derived from actual counts of every abortion reported to state health departments. Unfortunately, California, Maryland, and New Hampshire do not publicly report abortion totals. As such, Guttmacher’s abortion numbers are more complete, but they are approximations. Since only 58% of queried providers responded to Guttmacher’s latest survey, abortion totals were estimated for the remaining 42%. These estimates utilized in-state health department data and “service patterns of other abortion-providing facilities in the community.” Whereas the CDC numbers may be too low, Guttmacher’s numbers may be too high. The information on this page 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.
ANNUAL ABORTION STATISTICS
- Based on the latest available state-level data, approximately 887,000 abortions took place in the United States in 2016—down from approximately 913,000 abortions in 2015.
- According to the Guttmacher Institute, an estimated 926,240 abortions took place in the United States in 2014—down from 1.06 million in 2011, 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).
- In 2014, approximately 19% of U.S. pregnancies (excluding spontaneous miscarriages) ended in abortion.1
- According to the United Nations’ 2013 report, only nine countries in the world have a higher reported abortion rate than the United States. They are: Bulgaria, Cuba, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Romania, Russia, Sweden, and Ukraine.*
*Though the UN lists China’s official abortion rate at 19.2, China’s actual abortion rate is likely much higher. According to China’s 2010 census, there were approximately 310 million women of reproductive age in the country. An estimated 13-23 million abortions happen annually in China, resulting in an adjusted abortion rate of 41.9-74.2. The abortion rate is the number of abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44.
- In 2014, the highest percentage of pregnancies were aborted in the District of Columbia (38%), New York (33%), and New Jersey (30%). The lowest percentage of pregnancies were aborted in Utah (5%), South Dakota (4%), and Wyoming (<2%). (AGI abortion data + CDC birth data).
- In 2015, approximately 35% of all pregnancies in New York City (excluding spontaneous miscarriages) ended in abortion (CDC).
- 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 2014 to 2015, the number, rate2 and ratio3 of reported abortions all decreased by 2% (CDC).
WHO HAS ABORTIONS?
- In 2015, unmarried women accounted for 86% of all abortions (CDC).
- Among married women, 4% of pregnancies currently end in abortion. Among unmarried women, 27% of pregnancies end in abortion (CDC).
- Women in their 20s accounted for the majority of abortions in 2015 and had the highest abortion rates (CDC).
- Adolescents under 15 years obtained .03% of all 2015 abortions; women aged 15–19 years accounted for less than 10% (CDC).
- Percentage of 2015 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% 9.8% 31.1% 27.6% 17.7% 10.0% 3.5%
- 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 2015, women who had not aborted in the past accounted for 56% of all abortions; women with one or two prior abortions accounted for 35%, and women with three or more prior abortions accounted for 8% (CDC).
- Among women who obtained abortions in 2015, 41% had no prior live births; 45% had one or two prior live births, and 14% had three or more prior live births (CDC).
- Among white women, 10% of pregnancies currenlty end in abortion. Among black women, 28% of pregnancies end in abortion (CDC).
- Black women were more than 3.5 times more likely to have an abortion in 2015 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).
- In 2014, 30% of aborting women identified themselves as Protestant and 24% identified themselves as Catholic (AGI).
WHY DO ABORTIONS OCCUR?
- In 2004, the Guttmacher Institute anonymously surveyed 1,209 post-abortive women from nine different abortion clinics across the country. Of the women surveyed, 957 provided a main reason for having an abortion. This table lists each reason and the percentage of respondents who chose it.
Percentage Reason <0.5% Victim of rape 3% Fetal health problems 4% Physical health problems 4% Would interfere with education or career 7% Not mature enough to raise a child 8% Don’t want to be a single mother 19% Done having children 23% Can’t afford a baby 25% Not ready for a child 6% Other
- The state of Florida records a reason for every abortion that occurs within its borders each year. In 2015, there were 71,740 abortions in Florida. This table lists each reason and the percentage of abortions that occurred because of it.
Percentage Reason .001% The pregnancy resulted from an incestuous relationship .065% The woman’s life was endangered by the pregnancy .085% The woman was raped .288% The woman’s physical health was threatened by the pregnancy .294% The woman’s psychological health was threatened by the pregnancy .666% There was a serious fetal abnormality 6.268% The woman aborted for social or economic reasons 92.330% No reason (elective)
WHEN DO ABORTIONS OCCUR?
- 89% of all abortions happen during the first trimester, prior to the 13th week of gestation (AGI/CDC).
- In 2015, 8% of all abortions occurred between 14-20 weeks’ gestation; 1.3% occurred ≥21 weeks’ gestation (CDC).
- Percentage of 2015 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 34.2% 17.8% 13.3% 8.9% 5.6% 4.7% 3.5% 2.8% 3.5% 2.1% 2.0% 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 2015, 73% of reported abortions were accomplished by curettage (which includes dilatation and evacuation). Most curettage abortions are suction procedures (CDC).
- Medical abortions made up approximately 27% of all abortions reported in 2015 (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 3% between 2011 and 2014—from 1,720 to 1,671 (AGI).
- In 2011, 42% of providers offered very early abortions (during the first four weeks’ gestation) and 95% offered 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 offered abortions past 24 weeks (AGI).
- Only 5% of U.S. abortions occur in hospitals; 2% occur in physician’s offices. The rest occur in freestanding abortion clinics—without any established doctor-patient relationship (NAF).
- In 2014, six women died as a result of complications from induced abortion. Between 1973-2014, 437 women died due to abortion complications (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 2011-2012, the average cost of a nonhospital abortion with local anesthesia at 10 weeks of gestation was $480. The average cost of a medication abortions up to nine weeks of gestation was $504 (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 31% of all nonhospital abortions in 2014 (AGI).
ABORTION AND CONTRACEPTION
- Induced abortions usually result from unintended pregnancies, which often occur despite the use of contraception (CDC).
- In 2008, 51% of women having abortions used a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant. (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).
- In 2014, 88,466 abortions in California were paid for with public funds. Public funds paid for 45,722 abortions in New York (AGI).
This page was last updated on December 03, 2018. To cite this page in a research paper, visit: “Citing Abort73 as a Source.”
- This percentage was arrived at by comparing the number of 2014 births reported by the CDC (3,984,924) and the number of abortions reported by AGI.
- The abortion rate is the number of abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44.
- The abortion ratio is the number of abortions per 1,000 live births.
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)