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Abortion by the Numbers: Some Recent Statistics

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

Abortion Statistics

Many people wonder how many legal abortions are done in the U.S. each year, but an exact number is hard to come by. That’s because the two organizations trying to measure this—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Guttmacher Institute—each use different methods, and therefore, publish different figures.

How do these organizations compile their information?

The CDC compiles figures voluntarily reported by the central health agencies of the vast majority of states (including separate figures for New York City) and the District of Columbia. Its latest totals (from 2020) don’t include figures from California, Maryland or New Hampshire, which did not report data to the CDC.

The Guttmacher Institute compiles its figures after contacting every known provider of abortions in the country (e.g., clinics, hospitals and physicians’ offices). It uses questionnaires and health department data, and provides estimates for abortion providers that don’t respond to the inquiries. Guttmacher’s figures are higher than the CDC’s in part because it includes data (and in some cases, estimates) from all 50 states.

In attempt to shed light on the topic, we’ve pulled statistics from both organizations.

How many legal abortions are done in the U.S. each year?

The latest data from both organizations is from 2020 and therefore does not reflect the period after the Supreme Court’s recent decision to end the constitutional right to abortion.

  • The CDC says there were 620,327 abortions nationally in 2020 in 47 states and the District of Columbia (a 1.5% decrease from 2019).

  • Guttmacher’s national total for 2020 was 930,160, a 1.5% increase from 2019.

  • Figures reported by both organizations include only legal induced abortions conducted by clinics, hospitals or physicians’ offices, or those 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.

How has the number of abortions changed over time?

According to both reporting entities, the annual number of U.S. abortions rose for years after Roe v. Wade legalized the procedure in 1973, reaching its highest levels around the late 1980s and early 1990s. Since then, abortions have generally decreased at what one CDC analyst called “a slow yet steady pace.”

What is the abortion rate among U.S. women?

  • Guttmacher says that in 2020, there were 14.4 abortions in the U.S. per 1,000 women age 15-44.

  • The CDC says that in 2020, there were 11.2 abortions in the U.S. per 1,000 women age 15-44. (This excludes data from California, Maryland, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia.)

A few other facts:

  • 20.6% of all pregnancies in the U.S. end in abortion. (Guttmacher, 2020)

  • The top reason for abortion (25%) is not being ready for a child (<0.5% victim of rape). (Guttmacher, 2020)

  • 93% of abortions occur during the first trimester (at or before 13 weeks of gestation). (CDC, 2020)

  • The Food and Drug Administration first approved abortion pills in 2000.

  • 2020 marked the first time that a majority of legal abortions in the U.S. involved pills: 53%, according to both the CDC and Guttmacher.

  • In 2020, there were 1,603 facilities in the U.S. that provided abortions. This included 806 clinics, 530 hospitals and 266 physicians’ offices. (Guttmacher, 2020)

  • While clinics make up half of the facilities that provide abortions, they are the sites where the vast majority (96%) of abortions are administered, either through procedures or the distribution of pills. (Guttmacher, 2020)

  • In the 46 states that reported data to the CDC in 2020, the majority of women who had abortions (57%) were in their 20s, while 31% were in their 30s. Teens (age 13-19) accounted for 8%, while women in their 40s accounted for 4%.

  • According to the CDC, the vast majority of women who had abortions in 2020 were unmarried (86%), while married women accounted for 14%.

  • For 58% of U.S. women who had induced abortions in 2020, it was the first time they had ever had one. (CDC, 2020).

  • The median self-pay cost for medication abortion in the U.S. is $568. (ANSIRH abortion cost statistics, 2021)

  • 9.3% of legal abortions are performed on women outside their state of residence. (CDC, 2020)

  • 62% of abortion patients have a religious affiliation. (Guttmacher, 2020)

For information about abortion counseling or recovery support services, contact LivingWell Pregnancy Centers and Care Ministries.

Dear Father, these numbers are sobering when we realize that each represents a life created in Your image. We also realize it shows our desperate need for You, and though evil runs deep, your grace is deeper still. We ask for protection upon these precious unborn, that they may live to praise Your name. We also pray for the expectant mothers, that they may know that You have uniquely created them as life-givers. And even though they did not intend this now, nonetheless You have caused it and intend it for their good. So please Father, give them strength in this new purpose You have set before them. Calm their hearts and fix their eyes upon Jesus, in Whose Name we pray. Amen

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