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By the Numbers: U.S. Abortion Statistics

How many abortions have occurred in the U.S. since legalization in 1973? What are some characteristics of women who have abortions?abortion-statistics-1972-2010

It’s estimated that around one million abortions take place annually and more than 51 million abortions have been performed in the U.S. since 1973 (based on accumulative data from the two primary sources of U.S. abortion statistics – Centers for Disease Control and Guttmacher Institute).

Reported number of legal abortions in the United States for selected years according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2010 Abortion Surveillance Report (see graph).

*At first glance, the table listed above appears to show a considerable drop in the number of reported abortions performed in the U.S. between 1997 and 1998. Upon closer examination, however, the decrease is more moderate.

Here’s why: In 1998 and 1999, the number of abortions reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) excluded data from four states — Alaska, California, New Hampshire and Oklahoma — which did not provide information. In subsequent years, several states, including California, did not provide data to the CDC. 

In order to compare reported abortions in 1997 to the subsequent years, the CDC recalculated abortion totals for 1995, 1996 and 1997, minus these non-reporting states. The adjusted numbers of reported abortions are as follows:

 

 Year

Reported
Abortions 

Change Y/Y

1995 

908,243

Unavailable

1996

934,549

 3% Increase

1997

900,171

 3.5% Decrease

1998

884,273

 2% Decrease 

1999

861,789

 2.5% Decrease

2000

857,475

0.5% Decrease

2001

853,485

0.5% Decrease

2002

854,122

0.1% Increase

2003

848,163

0.7% Decrease

2004

839,226

1.1% Decrease

2005

820,151

2.3% Decrease

2006

846,181

3.1% Increase

2007

827,609

2.2% Decrease

2008

825,564

No Change

2009

784,507

5% Decrease

2010

765,651

3% Decrease

 

In 2010, three states — California, Maryland and New Hampshire — did not report abortions to the CDC. The number of reported abortions in 2008, in these three states, totaled 251,680, the majority in California. That puts the estimated number of U.S. abortions in 2008 at 1,017,331. 

The lack of uniform, mandatory abortion reporting for all 50 states hampers the CDC’s ability to accurately report the number of abortions performed in the U.S, as evidenced in the 1998 to 2010 reports.

According to the 2010 CDC report

  • Nearly 20 percent of abortions are chemical; 80 percent are surgical
  • 40 percent women who had abortions in the U.S. had no other children
  • 44 percent of women who had abortions in the U.S. had at least one previous abortion
  • 85 percent of women who had abortions in the U.S. were unmarried
  • Almost half of abortions are among women and teens 24-years old and younger

According to the Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of the nation’s leading abortion seller, Planned Parenthood:

 

 
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