Abortion Statistics in the United States
How prevalent is abortion?
Nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended, and four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion.
Twenty-two percent of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion.
In 2005, 1.21 million abortions took place, down from 1.31 million in 2000. From 1973 through 2005, more than 45 million legal abortions occurred.
Each year, about two percent of women aged 15-44 have an abortion; 47% of them have had at least one previous abortion.
At least half of American women will experience an unintended pregnancy by age 45, and, at current rates, about one-third will have had an abortion.
In 1998, the last year for which estimates were made, more than 23% of legal induced abortions were performed in California.**
Who, when, and why are women having abortions?
Fifty percent of U.S. women obtaining abortions are younger than 25: Women aged 20-24 obtain 33% of all abortions, and teenagers obtain 17%.
82% of all abortions are performed on unmarried women.**
Over 60% of abortions are among women who have had one or more children.
88% of all abortions happen during the first trimester, prior to the 13th week of pregnancy.**
On average, women give four reasons for choosing abortion. Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.
Are contraceptives being used to prevent unwanted pregnancies?
Fifty-four percent of women having abortions used a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant. Among those women, 76% of pill users and 49% of condom users reported using their method inconsistently, while 13% of pill users and 14% of condom users reported correct use.
Forty-six percent of women having abortions did not use a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant. Of these women, 33% perceived themselves to be at low risk, 32% had concerns about contraceptive methods, 26% had unexpected sex and 1% were forced to have sex.
How has abortion changed since the availability of non-surgical abortions?
In September 2000, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the abortion drug mifepristone to be marketed in the United States as an alternative to surgical abortion.
In 2005, 57% of abortion providers, or 1,026 facilities, provided one or more medication abortions, a 70% increase from the first half of 2001. At least 10% of nonhospital abortion providers offer only medication abortion services.
Medication abortion accounted for 13% of all abortions, and 22% of abortions before nine weeks’ gestation, in 2005.
What are the abortion laws and policies?
In the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the Supreme Court ruled that women, in consultation with their physician, have a constitutionally protected right to have an abortion in the early stages of pregnancy, before viability-free from government interference.
In 1992, the Court reaffirmed the right to abortion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The ruling gave states the right to enact restrictions that do not create an “undue burden” for women seeking abortion.
Thirty-five states currently enforce parental consent or notification laws for minors seeking an abortion. The Supreme Court ruled that minors must have an alternative, such as the ability to seek a court order authorizing the procedure.
Even without specific parental involvement laws, six in 10 minors who have an abortion report that at least one parent knew about their procedure.
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.
- The statistics above, unless otherwise noted, are taken directly from research done by the Alan Guttmacher Institute as of July 2008.
It is important to note that the accuracy of abortion statistics can vary due to the fact that some states, including California, are not required to report on abortion procedures.
** Statistic based on research by the Center for Disease Control.