By the Numbers: U.S. Abortion Statistics

The U.S. has seen a steady and significant drop in the number of abortions in recent years.  In 2015, the number of abortions was at its lowest since 1976 - and had dropped almost in half in the last 20 years.

It's estimated that fewer than one million abortions take place annually and more than 55 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 - U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Guttmacher Institute.

Problematic Reporting

The graph below shows the reported number of legal abortions in the U.S. for selected years according to the CDC's 2015 Abortion Surveillance Report.

From 1973 to 1997, the CDC received data from all 50 states; however, beginning in 1998, some states did not report, including California.

The sizable drop in abortions between 1997 and 1998 (from 1,186,039 to 884,273) reflects the absence of data from those non-reporting states. The third column of the chart lists the annual percent of change based on the states reporting the previous year and provides the best big picture of abortion trends.

In 2014, several states, including California, Maryland, and New Hampshire - did not report abortions to the CDC. Based on other sources, the total number of abortions in those states in 2014 is approximately 188,000 - the majority occurring in California.

That puts the estimated number of U.S. abortions in 2015 closer to 826,199. However, the downward trend in the abortion numbers continues, even with this adjustment.

Unfortunately, the lack of mandatory abortion reporting for all 50 states hampers the CDC's ability to accurately report the number of abortions performed in the U.S.

According to the 2015 CDC report:

  • More than 25 percent of abortions are chemical 
  • Nearly 75 percent of abortions are surgical
  • 41 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
  • 86 percent of women who had abortions in the U.S. were unmarried
  • 41 percent of abortions are among women and teens 24-years old and younger

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

  • At current rates, an estimated 1/4 of American women will have an abortion by the age of 45
  • About 15,000 abortions are attributed to rape and incest — representing 1.5 percent of all abortions.

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