While abortion is one of the most frequently performed surgical procedures in the United States, nationally valid data is available from only two sources: the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Guttmacher Institute – a research affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Data from both sources is extremely limited.
The CDC provides an annual report of abortion statistics based on data voluntarily submitted to state health departments by abortion providers. Forty-five state health departments consistently report data on abortion; California, New Hampshire, Alaska, West Virginia and Oklahoma do not.1 Due to the fact that many states do not report complete data on all characteristics (e.g., age, race, and weeks' of gestation), abortion statistics provided by the CDC may not be truly accurate.
The Guttmacher Institute provides a report of abortion statistics every four years based on direct survey responses from all known providers of abortion services in all fifty states.1 As a result, statistics on abortions reported by the Guttmacher Institute are generally accepted as more accurate than those reported by the CDC. However, all statistical reports from the Guttmacher Institute should be viewed and utilized in the context of their mission to advance abortion services.
The following statistics, graphs and charts are based on research published by the Guttmacher Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most recent figures available for incidence statistics are from 2005, with the latest demographic information from 2004.Incidence of Abortion
- In 2005, 1.21 million abortions were performed in the U.S. 2
- From 1973 through 2005, more than 45 million abortions occurred in the U.S.2
- The abortion ratio, the proportion of pregnancies ending in abortion, was 22.4. In other words, 22% of all pregnancies in the U.S. (excluding miscarriages) ended in abortion in 2005. 2
- The abortion rate, the number of abortions per a given subgroup, was 19.4 per 1,000 U.S. women aged 15-44.2
- Each year, about 2% of U.S. women aged 15–44 have an abortion; 47% of them have had at least one previous abortion.3
- 50% of U.S. women obtaining abortions are younger than 25. Women aged 20–24 obtain 33% of all abortions, and teenagers obtain 17%.4
- Black women are 4.8 times as likely as non-Hispanic white women to have an abortion, and Hispanic women are 2.7 times as likely.4
- 37.1% of all abortions are performed on black women who make up only 14% of the total population of U.S. women of child-bearing age. 5,6
- 54% of U.S. women who had an abortion in 2000-2001 had used a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant.7
1 "The Limitations of U.S. Statistics on Abortion," Issues in Brief, The Alan Guttmacher Institute,14 (Jan. 1997): 1-4 (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/ib14.pdf; visited March 18, 2009).
2 R.K. Jones et al., "Abortion in the United States: Incidence and Access to Services, 2005," Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 40 (2008):6-16 (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/4000608.pdf; visited March 19, 2009).
3 R.K. Jones, J.E. Darroch and S.K. Henshaw, "Patterns in the Socioeconomic Characteristics of Women Obtaining Abortions in 2000-2001," Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 34 (2002):226-235 (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3422602.html; visited March 19, 2009).
4 Distributions published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adjusted for year-to-year changes in the reporting states and applied to the total number of abortions in Jones RK et al. "Abortion in the United States: Incidence and Access to Services, 2005," Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2008, 40 (2008):6-16.
5 S.K. Henshaw and K. Kost, "Trends in the Characteristics of Women Obtaining Abortions, 1974 to 2004," New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2008 (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/2008/09/23/TrendsWomenAbortions-wTables.pdf; visited March 19, 2009).
6 J.L. Dye, "Fertility of American Women: June 2004", Current Population Reports, Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau, 2005 (http://www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs/p20-555.pdf; visited on March 19, 2009).
7 R.K. Jones, J.E. Darroch and S.K. Henshaw, "Contraceptive Use Among U.S. Women Having Abortions in 2000-2001," Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 34 (2002):294-303 (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3429402.html; visited March 19, 2009).
8 L.B. Finer et al., "Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives," Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 37 (2005):110-118 (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/psrh/full/3711005.pdf; visited March 19, 2009).