Both the Guttmacher Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regularly report abortion statistics in the United States. They use different methodologies, so they report somewhat different abortion rates, but they show similar trends. The Guttmacher Institute attempts to contact every abortion provider. The CDC relies on voluntary reporting of abortion data from the states and the District of Columbia. As of July 2022, the Guttmacher Institute had reported abortion data for the years 1973 through 2020 and the CDC had reported abortion data for the years 1970 through 2019.
Abortion statistics are commonly presented as the number of abortions, the abortion rate (the number of abortions per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44), and the abortion ratio. The Guttmacher Institute defines the abortion ratio as the number of abortions per 100 pregnancies ending in an abortion or a live birth, excluding miscarriages, and the CDC defines it as the number of abortions per 1,000 live births.
The figures reported by both organizations include only the legal induced abortions conducted by clinics, hospitals or physicians’ offices, or that make use of abortion pills dispensed from certified facilities such as clinics or physicians’ offices. They do not account for the use of abortion pills that were obtained outside of clinical settings.
Trends in abortion statistics
In 1973, the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalized abortion in all 50 states. From 1973 to 1980, the abortion rate rose almost 80%, peaking at 29.3 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age in 1980 and 1981.
From 1981 through 2017, the abortion rate fell by more than half, always falling faster in Democratic administrations than Republican ones. The abortion rate fell below the 1973 rate in 2012 and continued to fall through 2017, when it stood at 13.5 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age. The abortion rate then rose from 2018 through 2020.
During the 1980s, the population of women of childbearing age grew faster than the abortion rate fell, so the annual number of abortions performed did not peak until 1990, at about 1.6 million abortions. The number of abortions generally fell from 1991 through 2017, and rose thereafter. The largest percentage decrease in the number of abortions occurred in 2013, the year the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act took effect for most health insurance plans. Approximately 860,000 abortions were performed in 2017, rising to about 930,000 in 2020.
From 1973 to 1983, the abortion ratio reported by the Guttmacher Institute rose about 60%, peaking at 30.4 in 1983. From 1984 through 2016, the abortion ratio fell about 40%. It hit a low of 18.3 in 2016 and rose to 20.6 in 2020. The abortion ratio was slightly lower in 2016 and 2017 than in 1973 because a 40% decrease more than offsets a 60% increase.
This summary is largely based on data collected by the Guttmacher Institute. Data collected by the CDC shows similar trends, but the CDC consistently finds fewer abortions.
Abortion data for the four most recent years reported by the Guttmacher Institute appears below. The abortion ratio is the number of abortions per 100 pregnancies ending in an abortion or a live birth. From 2017 through 2020, the abortion rate rose 6.7%.
|year||number of abortions||abortion rate||abortion ratio|
|2019||916,460||14.2||not yet reported|
Abortion data for the ten most recent years reported by the CDC appears below. The data comes from 47 states, excluding California, Maryland, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia. The abortion ratio is the number of abortions per 1,000 live births. In 2018 and 2019, for the first time since 1979 and 1980, the abortion rate rose two years in a row.
|year||number of abortions||abortion rate||abortion ratio|
Independent clinics provide about 60% of abortions in the United States while Planned Parenthood provides about 35% of abortions in the United States.
Guttmacher Institute estimates
The abortion rights research and policy organization Guttmacher Institute estimates the number of abortions in the United States by surveying abortion providers. Every third year they attempt to contact every abortion provider. They ask for data for the two most recent years, and they estimate abortion statistics for the missing year by interpolation.
For 2020, the Guttmacher Institute reported 930,160 abortions, an abortion rate of 14.4 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 years, and 20.6 abortions per 100 pregnancies ending in abortion or live birth.
The means in the graph above are geometric means. For example, the mean annual increase during the Carter administration was 4.9%, because the abortion rate rose 21.1% in the Carter administration, and 104.9%*104.9%*104.9%*104.9%=121.1%.
CDC surveillance reports
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began abortion surveillance reports in 1969 to document the number and characteristics of women obtaining legal induced abortions. The CDC aggregates the information that the states and the District of Columbia collect to produce annual national estimates. Because New York City and the rest of New York State report separately, there are a total of 52 reporting areas.
The CDC always finds a lower abortion rate than the Guttmacher Institute. For 2019, the CDC reported 11.4 abortions and the Guttmacher Institute reported 14.2 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age.
Here are some of the reasons the CDC’s data is incomplete:
- States are not required to report abortion data to the CDC, and different states fail to report in different years. For 2019, California, Maryland, and New Hampshire failed to report abortion data. In particular, the lack of data from California, a populous state with a high abortion rate, reduces the reported overall abortion rate.
- New Jersey does not require abortion providers to report abortions to a governmental health agency.
- Among states that require abortion providers to report abortions, compliance varies.
To estimate the percentage change in the abortion rate from one year to the next most accurately, we must compare data from the same group of states in both years. Unfortunately, different states report their data to the CDC in different years. The black, blue, green, and purple pieces of the graph allow us to make accurate apples-to-apples comparisons. Each differently colored piece shows data from a different group of states. For example, the blue piece shows data from 46 reporting areas that reported continuously from 1997 through 2006. To estimate the change in the abortion rate from 1996 to 1998, we use the black part of the graph for 1997 and the blue part for 1998. The black part shows a 4.8% decrease in 1997, and the blue part shows a 2.3% decrease in 1998. The gap between the black and blue sections in 1997 occurs because data from California, a populous state with high abortion rates, was not available after 1997.
The rapid increase in the reported abortion rates from 1970 through 1972, prior to Roe v. Wade, was due in part to improved reporting of the abortions that occurred.
In 2017, Guttmacher reported that almost 25% of women will have had an abortion by age 45, with 4.6% of 20-year-olds and 19% of 30-year-olds having had at least one.
Abortion rates tend to be higher among minority women in the U.S. In 2000–2001 the rates among black and Hispanic women were 49 per 1,000 and 33 per 1,000, respectively, vs. 13 per 1,000 among non-Hispanic white women. Note that this figure includes all women of reproductive age, including women who are not pregnant. In other words, these abortion rates reflect the rate at which U.S. women of reproductive age have an abortion each year. In 2019, 38% of women who underwent abortion were black; 33% were non-Hispanic white; 21% were Hispanic.
A study by the National Institute of Health in the United States found that of the Obstetrician-Gynecologists that provide abortions, more identified as Protestant than Catholic. The Guttmacher report of 1987 found Protestants accounted for 41.9% of abortions while Catholics accounted for 31.5%. The Guttmacher report of 1994 found Protestants accounted for 37% of abortions while Catholics accounted for 31%. The Guttmacher report of 2000 found Protestants accounted for 43% of abortions while Catholics accounted for 27%. The Guttmacher report of 2014 found Protestants accounted for 30% of abortions while Catholics accounted for 24%.
In-state vs. out-of-state
In the decade from 2011 to 2020, during which many states increased abortion restrictions, the percentage of women nationwide who traveled out of state for an abortion increased steadily, from 6% in 2011 to 9% in 2020. Out of state travel for an abortion was much more prevalent in the 29 states hostile to abortion rights, with percentages in those states rising from 9% in 2011 to 15% by 2020, while in states supportive of abortion rights, out of state travel for abortions rose from 2% to 3% between 2011 and 2020.
Gutttmacher has released data about abortions by state of occurrence and state of residence. In some states, these numbers can be tremendously different, for example in Missouri, a state with relatively strict controls on abortion, the abortion rate by state of occurrence dropped from 4 in 1000 women aged 15–44 for 2017 to 0.1 for 2020, because 57% of abortion recipients went out of state in 2017, while 99% did so in 2020. In contrast, from 2017 to 2020, the abortion rate by state of residence for Missourians went up by 18% from 8.4 to 9.9.
Some out of state travel pertains to locations of population centers in states; if large cities are close to state borders it may be common to cross borders for an abortion. For example, Delaware, which is generally permissive of abortion, saw 44% of residents obtain their abortions in neighboring states.
- Jones, Rachel K.; Witwer, Elizabeth; Jerman, Jenna (18 September 2019). "Abortion Incidence and Service Availability in the United States, 2017". Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. 49 (1): 17–27. doi:10.1363/2019.30760. PMC 5487028. PMID 28094905. S2CID 203813573. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
- "Abortion | Data and Statistics | Reproductive Health | CDC". www.cdc.gov. 2019-01-16. Retrieved 2019-07-24.
- Kortsmit, Katherine; Mandel, Michele G.; Reeves, Jennifer A.; Clark, Elizabeth; Pagano, H. Pamela; Nguyen, Antoinette; Petersen, Emily E.; Whiteman, Maura K. (26 November 2021). "Abortion Surveillance — United States, 2019". Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 70 (9): 1–29. doi:10.15585/mmwr.ss7009a1. PMC 8654281. PMID 34818321. This Wikipedia article take CDC data for 2015-2019 from this source
- Diamant, Jeff; Mohamed, Besheer (2022-06-24). "What the data says about abortion in the U.S." Pew Research Center.
- Jones, Rachel K.; Philbin, Jesse; Kerstein, Marielle; Nash, Elizabeth; Lufkin, Kimberley (June 15, 2022). ""Long-Term Decline in US Abortion Reverses, Showing Rising Need for Abortion as Supreme Court Is Poised to Overturn Roe v. Wade"". Guttmacher Institute.
- "Communities Need Clinics" (PDF). abortioncarenetwork.org. 6 June 2022. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2 July 2022. Retrieved 23 October 2022.
- Jones, Rachel K.; Kooistra, Kathryn (March 2011). "Abortion Incidence and Access to Services In the United States, 2008". Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. 43 (1): 41–50. doi:10.1363/4304111. PMID 21388504.
- Jones, Rachel K. (2022-02-24). "Medication Abortion Now Accounts for More Than Half of All US Abortions". Guttmacher Institute.
- Gamble, Sonya B.; Strauss, Lilo T.; Parker, Wilda Y.; Cook, Douglas A.; Zane, Suzanne B.; Hamdan, Saeed (28 November 2008). "Abortion surveillance--United States, 2005". Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 57 (13): 1–32. PMID 19037196. This Wikipedia article take CDC data for 1970-1997 from this source.
- Pazol, Karen; Gamble, Sonya B.; Parker, Wilda Y.; Cook, Douglas A.; Zane, Suzanne B.; Hamdan, Saeed (27 November 2009). "Abortion surveillance - United States, 2006". Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 58 (8): 1–35. PMID 19940837. This Wikipedia article take CDC data for 1997-2006 from this source.
- Jatlaoui TC, Boutot ME, Mandel MG, Whiteman MK, Ti A, Petersen E, Pazol K (November 2018). "Abortion Surveillance - United States, 2015". MMWR. Surveillance Summaries. 67 (13): 20. doi:10.15585/mmwr.ss6713a1. PMC 6289084. PMID 30462632. This Wikipedia article take CDC data for 2006-2015 from this source.
- Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) (4 December 1998). "Abortion surveillance: preliminary analysis--United States, 1996". Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 47 (47): 1025–8, 1035. PMID 9853940.
- Jones, Rachel K. (2017-10-19). "Abortion Is a Common Experience for U.S. Women, Despite Dramatic Declines in Rates". Guttmacher Institute.
- "Abortion". Archived from the original on 2008-03-11.
- "Reported Legal Abortions by Race of Women Who Obtained Abortion by the State of Occurrence". KFF. 2021-12-01. Retrieved 2022-06-27.
- Stulberg, Debra B.; Dude, Annie M.; Dahlquist, Irma; Curlin, Farr A. (September 2011). "Abortion Provision Among Practicing Obstetrician–Gynecologists". Obstetrics and Gynecology. 118 (3): 609–614. doi:10.1097/AOG.0b013e31822ad973. PMC 3170127. PMID 21860290.
- "Bishops dismiss report on abortions by Catholics".
- "Study: Evangelicals, Catholics Resort to Abortion, Too". Chicago Tribune.
- "Abortions: Comparing Catholic and Protestant Women". 27 December 2007.
- "U.S. Abortion Statistics".
- Maddow-Zimet, Isaac; Kost, Kathryn (2022-07-21). "Even Before Roe Was Overturned, Nearly One in 10 People Obtaining an Abortion Traveled Across State Lines for Care". Guttmacher Institute.
- United States abortion rates, 1960-2013 at Johnston's Archive