Abortion Statistics & Facts To Know In 2024

Jennifer Jacobsen

Published at 10:56

Dr G. Michael DiLeo, MD

Medical reviewer

Abortion statistics show trends related to abortion prevalence.

Abortion can be a controversial topic in the world of reproductive health. Some argue that abortion should be a cornerstone of reproductive health services. Others assert that abortion is an act of immorality that should be outlawed.

Regardless of where you stand on the topic, the controversy surrounding abortion can lead to a twisting of facts. So, it’s important to take a look at abortion statistics to understand the truth regarding this reproductive health issue.

The word abortion, medically, means any interruption of a pregnancy. Thus, a miscarriage is an abortion. Here are discussed some key facts and figures for elective — or induced — abortion. As you will find, abortion rates can vary based on age and race.

Key Abortion Facts

  • In the first six months of 2023, there were an estimated 511,000[1] abortions in 36 states and Washington, D.C.
  • Abortion prevalence declined 2%[2] from 2019 to 2020.
  • Over half[2] of abortions occur in those aged 20 to 29.
  • Most women who have an abortion are married. Married women make up only 13.7%[2] of those who get abortions.
  • Non-Hispanic Blacks account for 39.2%[2] of abortions, followed by non-Hispanic Whites, who account for 32.7%.[2]
  • Nearly half, 45.3%,[2] of abortions occur at 6 weeks gestation or earlier.
  • Only 6.8%[2] of abortions occur at 14 weeks gestation or later.

Abortion Statistics In The United States

How Has The Rate Of Abortion Changed Over Time?

abortion statistics
Abortion facts and statistics show a slight decline in abortion rates from 2010 to 2020. Photo: Team Design
  • As of 2020, a total of 620,327[2] abortions were reported.
  • From 2019 to 2020, the total number of reported abortions decreased 2% (from 625,346 total abortions). Furthermore, the abortion rate decreased 2%[2] (from 11.4 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years).
  • All age groups saw a decline in abortion rates from 2011 to 2020. 
  • Statistics by year suggest an overall decline from 2010 to 2020. However, there was a slight increase between 2017 and 2020. In 2017, there were 612,719[1] abortions, compared to 620,327 in 2020. The number in 2020 is still lower compared to 2011, when there were 730,322 abortions. 

While not represented in the graph, it’s important to note that location also affects the abortion rate. tatistics by state show the following:

  • The rate of abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 is highest in the District of Columbia. The rate in this district is 23.0 per 1,000.[2]
  • Florida also has one of the highest abortion rates, at 19.1 per 1,000.[2]
  • Abortion rates are low in South Dakota and Wyoming; both states have a rate of 0.8 per 1,000.[2]  

Who Gets Abortions In The United States?

Abortion Rate By Age

abortion statistics
The majority of abortions are among those aged 20 to 29. Photo: Team Design
  • The highest abortion rate is seen between the ages 20 to 29;[2] over half of abortions are in this age group.
  • Just 8.4%[2] of abortions happen in women under age 20, and only 3.7%[2] are in those aged 40 and above.
  • The second highest abortion rate is between the ages of 30 to 39. Nearly one-third[2] of abortions are in this age group.
  • Women in their twenties are the most likely to have abortions. However, between 2011 to 2020, the abortion rate increased[2] in teens age 15 to 19.
  • Only 0.2%[2] of abortions happen in teens younger than 15.

Abortion Rate By Race Or Ethnicity

abortion statistics
Over one-third of abortions are in non-Hispanic Blacks. Photo: Team Design
  • Among all abortions in 2020, 39.2%[2] were in non-Hispanic Blacks.
  • Non-Hispanic Whites are number two on the list, accounting for 32.7%[2] of abortions.
  • Hispanic populations made up 21.1%[2] of abortions.
  • Just 7%[2] of abortions were in those who identified as another non-Hispanic race or ethnicity.
  • Based upon these data, it is clear that statistics vary by race and age.

Abortion Rate By Marital Status

abortion statistics
Most abortions happen in unmarried people. Photo: Team Design
  • The majority of abortions are in unmarried individuals. As of 2020, 86.3%[2] of abortions happened in those who were unmarried.
  • Only 13.7%[2] of abortions happen in people who are married.

Abortion Fact And Statistics By Income

abortion statistics
Nearly half of abortions are in those below the poverty level. Photo: Team Design
  • The data indicate that income level affects whether a person seeks abortion services. Nearly half[3] of abortions happen in women below the poverty level.
  • People earning up to twice the poverty level account for 26%[3] of abortions.
  • Those with an income over double the poverty level make up 25%[3] of those who get abortions.

At What Point In Pregnancy Do Abortions Occur?

abortion statistics
Most abortions happen early in pregnancy. Photo: Team Design
  • Those who wish to ban abortion often speak out against late-term[4] abortion. In reality, induced abortions are not common later in pregnancy. Just 6.8%[2] of abortions happen at week 14 or later. 
  • Most abortions happen early in the first trimester. Nearly half, or 45.3%[2] occur before 6 weeks. 
  • An additional 35.6%[2] of abortions happen between weeks 7 and 9, and 12.2%[2] occur between weeks 10 and 13.
  • In totality, these figures mean that 93.1%[2] of abortions are first-trimester abortions.

Where Do People Get Abortion Care?

abortion statistics
Most abortions happen in an abortion or non-specialized clinic. Photo: Team Design
  • In 2020, just 3%[5] of abortions took place in a hospital, suggesting that most obtained abortions do not occur in emergency situations.
  • More than half, or 54%,[5] of abortions are completed in abortion clinics.
  • An additional 43%[5] of abortions are performed at a non-speciality clinic.
  • A physician’s office is the least likely place for an abortion to occur. Just 1%[4] of abortions take place in this setting.

Public Opinions About Abortion

There are a range of different public opinions related to abortion. According to data from the Pew Research Center, 19%[4] of U.S. adults say that abortion should be legal in all cases, no exceptions. People who fall into this category believe that abortion should always be legal.

An additional 36%[4] of people believe abortion should be legal in most cases, with some exceptions.  Furthermore, 6%[4] of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all cases but with some exceptions.

On the other hand, 8%[4] of Americans believe abortion should be illegal in all cases, no exceptions. An additional 27%[4] of people believe it should be illegal in most cases. Finally, 2%[4] believe abortion should be illegal in all cases with rare exceptions.

In summary, 37%[4] of people believe abortion should mostly or always be illegal. This is in contrast to the 61%[4] of Americans who feel abortion should mostly or always be legal.

The statistics above indicate general support for or opposition to abortion. However, public opinion can vary based upon factors like gestational age. Learn more details below.

Public Opinion Based On Gestational Age 

Public opinion related to abortion varies based upon the gestational age of the baby. At six weeks gestation, 19%[4] of people say abortion should be legal with no exceptions. An additional 25%[3] state that it should simply be legal.

At this point in gestation, 8%[4] of people say abortion should be illegal, no exceptions. Furthermore, 12%[3] state it should simply be illegal.

Fast forward to 14 weeks gestation, and 19%[4] of people state it should be legal, no exceptions. An additional 15%[4] just state that it should be illegal. On the other hand, 19% state abortion should be illegal at 14 weeks, and 8%[4] say it should be illegal with no exception.

Finally, at 24 weeks gestation, 3%[4] of people state abortion should be legal, compared to 34%[4] who state it should be illegal. Most people do not support abortions late in pregnancy. Interestingly, late-term statistics show only 0.9%[2] of abortions happen at 21 weeks gestation or beyond.

Other Circumstances Affecting Public Opinion 

There are additional factors that influence whether a person supports or is against abortion. For example 83%[4] of people say abortion should be legal if the pregnancy was a result of rape. However, 7%[4] of people say it should still be illegal, and 8%[4] say it depends. 

When a woman’s health or life is at stake, 84%[4] say abortion should be legal, but 6%[4] say it should be illegal. An additional 8%[4] say it depends. 

What Are The Types Of Abortion?

There are two types of abortion procedures: medical[6] and evacuation.[7] A medical abortion occurs via taking two pills, mifepristone and misoprostol. These medications cause the uterus to empty, terminating a pregnancy.

A medical abortion can be completed up until 11 weeks after the first day of a woman’s last period. If later in the pregnancy, a surgical abortion is needed.

Benefits & Risks Of An Abortion

As with anything, abortion comes with both risks and benefits. Some may argue against the benefits of abortion, so it’s important to discuss these objectively. Pros and cons of abortion are discussed below in more detail.

Potential Benefits Of Abortion

While research[8] regarding abortion shows that post-abortion care may be costly for some, abortion access also can come with economic benefits. 

The abortion data also show that the benefits include increased educational attainment.[8] Women who access abortion when needed are also more likely[8] to be in the labor force. This is especially true for single Black women, which demonstrates abortion can reduce racial and economic disparities.

Beyond economic benefits, legal abortions can reduce teen maternity. States that fund abortion services have lower birth rates[8] among teens.

Abortion also generally improves the quality of life for children. For example, after the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade, making abortion bans unconstitutional, children fared better.[8] Being more likely [8] to finish college, they were less likely to become single parents or recipients of welfare benefits.

Finally, abortion access has been found to reduce crime rates.[8] This occurs because legal abortion lowers the number of children born in undesirable circumstances. Unwanted children are more likely to be born in disadvantaged communities and to engage in crime.

Potential Risks Of Abortion 

Many of the physical risks that come with abortion are rare. Some medical complications of abortion include:

  • Pregnancy tissue remains in the uterus
  • Uterine blood clots
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Injury to cervix or uterus 
  • Extremely heavy bleeding
  • Infection
  • Allergic reaction to the abortion medication 

Restricting access to abortion generally increases the risk[9] of complications. When the procedure is illegal, unsafe abortions are more likely to occur. A pregnant person may attempt to induce abortion themselves, leading to a lack of proper abortion care.

In the United States, the abortion mortality rate is low. In 2019, there were just four abortion-related deaths.[2] The overall abortion mortality rate was 0.43 deaths[2] per 100,000 legal abortions. 

In summary, the risk of medical complications after abortion is low. A very small proportion of women die from abortion. 

Beyond medical problems, other potential risks of abortion include negative impacts on mental health. Research shows[10] that some women experience sadness, grief, and a sense of loss after terminating a pregnancy. For some women, post-abortion sadness can lead to anxiety and depression.

This doesn’t mean that everyone who has an abortion will experience psychological consequences. Some women are at greater risk of negative mental health after abortion. Some risk factors[10] include:

  • Being pressured by others to have an abortion 
  • Terminating a wanted pregnancy
  • Lack of social support
  • Feeling that one’s partner opposes the abortion
  • Previous mental health problems
  • Stigma related to abortion
  • Being unsure about the abortion
  • Having an abortion after the first trimester
  • Poor coping skills 

How To Prepare For An Abortion

If you’ve decided to have an abortion, there are steps you can take to prepare. First, it’s important to research the abortion procedure, so you know what to expect. 

It can also be helpful to learn about the costs associated with abortion. Contact your insurance company to determine whether they will cover the procedure. Knowing your out-of-pocket costs can ease some anxiety. 

Furthermore, it’s essential to learn about abortion laws in your state. Whether abortion is legal at a certain point in pregnancy varies by state law. If you wait too long, restrictive laws may prevent you from having the procedure.

Before you report for your appointment, make sure you prepare for the recovery. Find out what over-the-counter pain medications you need to have on hand. It’s also beneficial to purchase maxi pads to wear afterward, as you’re likely to experience bleeding. 

Finally, it’s helpful to have a plan for support during this time. Find supportive friends and family you can turn to if you need to talk. If you know that the procedure may cause distress, make plans to connect with a counselor or therapist.

Conclusion

Data from the federal government show that the number of abortions has decreased slightly[2] since 2011. Despite this fact, abortion remains a controversial topic. As Roe v. Wade was recently overturned,[11] the future of abortion laws remains somewhat uncertain.

What we do know is that women in their twenties accounted[2] for most abortions, according to most recent data. We also know that Black, non-Hispanic women[2] account for the largest number of abortions, with non-Hispanic Whites falling close behind. 

Abortions are also most common[2] among people below the poverty line. While some Americans may be opposed to abortion, there is evidence that this is economically beneficial. 

For instance, when unintended pregnancies occur in disadvantaged communities, children are more likely to grow up and commit crimes. Legal abortions can reduce this risk.[7]

Despite some societal benefits, there are also risks associated with abortion. Some women may experience complications, such as severe bleeding or infection. Keep in mind that serious complications, including death,[2] are rare.

Finally, some women may have a negative reaction to abortion. This can lead to symptoms of depression and anxiety, which are more common[10] in women with certain risk factors.

The information presented here is not meant to communicate support nor opposition to legal abortion in the United States. Rather, it provides an overview of how common abortion is, and who it affects.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long does it take to recover from an abortion?

You can generally[12] return to usual activities soon after an abortion. Individual circumstances can vary, so it’s important to consult with your doctor. You may experience cramping and discharge afterward, which can limit some activities like exercise and sex.

2.Do abortions hurt?

The abortion procedure can cause[12] abdominal pain, and pain medication may be needed. Some abdominal pain and cramping is also normal after induced abortion.

3.Can you go into shock after an abortion?

Extreme complications like shock are uncommon following abortion. Research[9] in a country with highly restrictive abortion laws found that 3.5% of women experienced septic shock. These complications are more common in countries where abortion is illegal.

Jennifer has written health and wellness content for over 10 years. In addition to this experience, she is a practicing mental health clinician and university professor. She has taught group fitness classes at a local gym for the past 4 years.

Resources

MANA adheres to strict sourcing guidelines, avoids most tertiary sources, and uses only professional resources updated to contain accurate and current information. We majorly rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research from reputable medical associations. For more information regarding our editorial process, please refer to the provided resources.

  1. Abortions Rose in Most States This Year, New Data Shows. (2024). The New York Times. [online] Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2023/09/07/us/abortion-data-bans-laws.html [Accessed 29 Jan. 2024].
  2. Kortsmit, K., Nguyen, A.T., Mandel, M.G., Clark, E., Hollier, L.M., Rodenhizer, J. and Whiteman, M.K. (2022). Abortion Surveillance — United States, 2020. Europe PMC (PubMed Central), [online] 71(10), pp.1–27. doi:https://doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.ss7110a1.
  3. Guttmacher Institute. (2017). Abortion rates by income. [online] Available at: https://www.guttmacher.org/infographic/2017/abortion-rates-income [Accessed 29 Jan. 2024].
  4. Jones, R.K., Kirstein, M. and Philbin, J. (2022). Abortion incidence and service availability in the United States, 2020. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, [online] 54(4), pp.128–141. doi:https://doi.org/10.1363/psrh.12215.
  5. Jones, R.K., Kirstein, M. and Philbin, J. (2022). Abortion incidence and service availability in the United States, 2020. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, [online] 54(4), pp.128–141. doi:https://doi.org/10.1363/psrh.12215.
  6. Acog.org. (2020). Medication Abortion Up to 70 Days of Gestation. [online] Available at: https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/practice-bulletin/articles/2020/10/medication-abortion-up-to-70-days-of-gestation [Accessed 29 Jan. 2024].
  7. Jones, R.E. (2014). Induced Abortion. Elsevier eBooks, [online] pp.271–282. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-382184-3.00014-3.
  8. van, Coast, E., Lattof, S.R., Poss, C. and Moore, B. (2021). The macroeconomics of abortion: A scoping review and analysis of the costs and outcomes. PLOS ONE, [online] 16(5), pp.e0250692–e0250692. doi:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0250692.
  9. Tadele Melese, Habte, D., Tsima, B.M., Keitshokile Dintle Mogobe, Kesegofetse Chabaesele, Goabaone Rankgoane, Keakabetse, T.R., Mabole Masweu, Mosidi Mokotedi, Mpho Motana and Badani Moreri-Ntshabele (2017). High Levels of Post-Abortion Complication in a Setting Where Abortion Service Is Not Legalized. PLOS ONE, [online] 12(1), pp.e0166287–e0166287. doi:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0166287.
  10. Reardon, D.C. (2018). The abortion and mental health controversy: A comprehensive literature review of common ground agreements, disagreements, actionable recommendations, and research opportunities. DOAJ (DOAJ: Directory of Open Access Journals), [online] 6, p.205031211880762-205031211880762. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/2050312118807624.
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