Abortion Facts and Statistics in the 21st Century

Essential Abortion Information for Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Advocates

Protesters on both sides of the abortion issue gather

Getty Images/Mark Wilson

The pro-life/pro-choice debate has been raging for years and it's a hot one, but some facts and figures can help put it in perspective. The following abortion facts are drawn from annual statistics for abortion in the U.S. and may be helpful in understanding the basis of the pro-life/pro-choice controversy. 

Where the Numbers Come From

Abortion data is regularly collected and analyzed by the CDC as well as by the Guttmacher Institute. The Guttmacher Institute which handles research for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

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Unintended Pregnancies Account for About Half of all Pregnancies

CNN has reported that between 2006 and 2010, 51 percent of U.S. pregnancies were unintended, but this figure is actually dropping. It was only 45 percent during the period from 2009 through 2013. The study of almost 2,000 pregnancies was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

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About One Percent of Pregnancies End in Abortion

The CDC also found that 12.5 abortions were performed per every 1,000 women in 2013, the last year for which comprehensive statistics are available. This was down 5 percent from the previous year. A total of 664,435 legal abortions were reported to the CDC in 2013. Women in their twenties accounted for most of them. 

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48 Percent of Women Had Previous Abortions

48 percent of the women surveyed were found to have had one or more abortions previously. This 2013 rate was the lowest since 2004. The number of abortions dropped by 20 percent in that time period, while the abortion rate dropped 21 percent and the ratio of abortions to live births dropped 17 percent to 200 abortions per 1,000 live births. 

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52 Percent of Women Choosing Abortions are Under Age 25.

Teenagers accounted for 19 percent of the abortions reported in 2009, and women age 20 to 24 accounted for 33 percent, according to People Concerned for the Unborn Child, a pro-life organization. This, too, is changing, however slightly. The rate for women under age 20 fell to 18 percent by 2013. 

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Black Women Are Almost Four Times as Likely to Have an Abortion as White Women

When it comes to Latino women, the number is 2.5 times as likely as white women. Non-Hispanic white women accounted for 36 percent of abortions in 2013. 

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Women Who Have Never Been Married Account for 2/3 of All Abortions

Overall, the abortion rate among unmarried women was 85 percent as of 2009, according to the CDC. This figure remained about the same in 2013. 

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The Majority of Women Who Choose Abortions Have Already Given Birth

Women who are mothers and have had one or more children already comprise over 60 percent of all abortions.

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The Vast Majority of Abortions Take Place in the First Trimester

In 2013, the CDC found that 91.6 percent of abortions took place during the first 13 weeks gestation period. 

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Almost Half of All Women Having Abortions Live Under the Federal Poverty Line

About 42 percent of women having abortions lived under the poverty line in 2013, and an additional 27 percent had incomes within 200 percent of the federal poverty line. This totals 69 percent of low-income women.

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Americans Opinions Are Changing

According to a 2015 Gallup poll, more Americans reported being pro-choice than they did seven years earlier in 2008. 50 percent of those surveyed were pro-choice compared to 44 percent who said they were pro-life. 54 percent of those who were pro-choice were women compared to 46 percent who were male. The pro-life faction led by 9 percent in May 2012. Gallup did not ask those they polled whether they were pro-life or pro-choice but rather deduced their positions from their answers to a series of questions.