UNITED STATES ABORTION FACTS AT A GLANCE
Abstracted from Guttmacher Institute’s Induced Abortion in the United States 2022 Fact Sheet and other sources
ABORTION BY THE NUMBERS
- Abortion is common and much safer than carrying a pregnancy to term, having a colonoscopy, or crossing the street (Raymond 2012, Pedbikeinfo, Levin 2006). Medication abortion and procedural abortion are safe, and the primary limits to safety are limits to access (NASEM 2018).
- 18% of U.S. pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion (Jones 2017).
- Most abortions occur early in pregnancy; nearly 90% in first 12 weeks (Jones 2017).
- Medication abortions account for over half of all eligible U.S. facility-based abortions (Jones 2022).
- Data are limited, however, a significant number of people attempt to self-manage their abortions (Fuentes 2020, Moseson 2020). These numbers will significantly increase with increasing state-based restrictions post-Roe.
- Most U.S. counties (89%) lack an abortion provider; these counties are home to 38% of reproductive age women (Jones 2017).
- U.S. unintended pregnancy rates are higher (45%) than other developed nations.
WHO HAS ABORTIONS
- One of every four U.S. pregnancy capable people has abortions and they come from all backgrounds.
- Approximately 60% of abortions are among people who have had at least one child.
- Of people obtaining abortions, 30% identify as Protestant and 24% as Catholic.
- More than half are in their 20s, and 12% are in their teens (Jerman 2016).
- Of the people who have abortions, 39% identify as white, 28% Black, 25% Hispanic, 6% Asian or Pacific Islander, and 3% different race or ethnicity (Jerman 2016).
- 75% of people accessing abortion are low-income or poor (Guttmacher 2016)
- On average, people report ≥ 3 reasons for choosing abortion: ¾ say a baby would interfere with work, school, or responsibilities; ¾ say they cannot afford a child; and ½ do not want to be a single parent or report relationship problems (Jerman 2016).
- Nearly 60% of patients who experience a delay in obtaining an abortion cite the time it took to make arrangements and to raise money.
- Transgender and non-binary people may have undesired pregnancy after transitioning socially, medically, or both, and may seek prenatal or abortion care (Moseson 2020).
LONG TERM TURNAWAY OUTCOMES (ANSIRH Turnaway Study)
- Long-term research shows that abortion does not harm patients; there is no increased risk of depression, PTSD, low life satisfaction, or other mood symptoms when comparing patients who had abortion vs. those turned away.
- Patients denied an abortion have decreased financial security and four times the odds of living below the federal poverty level (FPL) compared to those who had an abortion.
- Patients denied an abortion are more likely to remain tethered to abusive partners, and more likely to experience pregnancy complications including eclampsia and death.
- The financial wellbeing and development of children is negatively impacted when their mothers are denied abortion.
WHO PROVIDES ABORTIONS
- At least 30% of providers now offer medication abortion services only (Jones 2017).
- The number of providers and clinics providing abortion has declined in recent years.
- The number of providers decreases with increasing gestational age: 95% offer abortion to 8 weeks, 34% to 20 weeks, and 16% to 24 weeks (Jones 2017).
- While most states allow healthcare professionals to refuse involvement in abortion on the basis of conscientious objection, many abortion providers characterize their provision as conscience-based.
- Over 50% of patients having abortions used a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant (Jones 2018).
- Of those not using a method the month they got pregnant, 33% perceived themselves to be at low risk for pregnancy, 32% had method concerns, 26% had unexpected sex, and 1% were forced to have sex (Jones 2002).
- 76% of pill users and 49% of condom users reported inconsistent use (Jones 2002).
SAFETY OF ABORTION
- The major report from NASEM (the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine) concluded that all forms of abortion (medication, aspiration, dilation and evacuation, and induction) are safe and that the primary factors decreasing safety are those decreasing access (NASEM 2018, Upadhyay 2015, White 2015).
- Medication abortion care, administered by telehealth and delivered via mail, is feasible, safe, and efficacious (Upadhyah 2021).
- First trimester abortions pose no long-term risk of infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion, or breast cancer (Guttmacher 2019).
- Abortion does not pose a hazard to patient’s mental health (Biggs 2016, Horvath 2017). The most common emotional response following abortion is a sense of relief.
- Mortality associated with childbirth is 14 times that of legal abortion (Raymond 2012), though due to systemic racism, Black women – as with maternal mortality – have a risk of abortion-related death that is 3 times more than for white women (Zane 2015).
- In the U.S., the risk of abortion complications requiring hospitalization is less than 0.5% (NASEM 2018, White 2015).
THE IMPACT OF ABORTION-RELATED STIGMA
- Because abortion is highly stigmatized, patients who seek or undergo abortion may keep their decision a secret.
- A systematic review showed that patients who have had abortions experience fear of social judgment, self-judgment and a need for secrecy. Secrecy was associated with psychological distress and social isolation (Guttmacher 2016).
- A patient may choose not to disclose their decision to family or friends, exclude abortion in their medical history, or delay care or management of emergencies.
- “Stigma and silence produce a vicious cycle: when [patients do not disclose their experience or] providers do not disclose their work, their silence can perpetuate a stereotype that abortion remains rare, or that legitimate, mainstream providers do not perform abortions. This can in turn contribute to marginalization of patients and abortion providers.” (Harris 2013)
- Stigma can lead to the social, medical, and legal marginalization of abortion care around the world and is a barrier to access to high quality, safe abortion care.