< U.S. abortion numbers, rates and ratio, from 1973


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Abortion statistics

U.S. abortion numbers by year.
U.S. abortion rate by year.
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The number of abortions in the U.S. each year:

CDC data is available starting in 1973. This was the year when the U.S. Supreme Court made first trimester abortions freely available in the U.S. Prior to that, legal abortions were only legal in certain liberal states, like New York and California.

The CDC reported in 2006 that:

"During 1990--1997, the number of legal induced abortions gradually declined. When the same 47 reporting areas are compared, the number of abortions decreased during 1996--2001, then slightly increased in 2002 and again decreased in 2003." 1

Between 2004 and 2006, the numbers decreased and then went back to the 2003 level.

Of course, since 1973, the number of women who might become pregnant has gradually increased due to the general increase in the population of the U.S. , so that the abortion rate had decreased.

CDC data, with percentage changes rounded to the nearest percent:

Year
Number of abortions
Change from previous year Reference used
1973 615,831 -  
1974 763,476 + 24%  
1975 854,853 + 12%  
1976 988,267 + 16%  
1977 1,079,430 + 9%  
1978 1,157,776 + 7%  
1979 1,251,921 + 8%  
1980 1,297,606 + 4%  
1981 1,300,760 + 0.2%  
1982 1,303,980 + 0.2%  
1983 1,268,987 - 3%  
1984 1,333,521 + 5%  
1985 1,328,570 - 4%  
1986 1,328,112 ±0%  
1987 1,353,671 +2%  
1988 1,371,285 + 1%  
1989 1,396,658 + 2%  
1990 1,429,247 + 2%  
1991 1,388,937 - 3%  
1992 1,359,146 - 2%  
1993 1,330,414 - 2%  
1994 1,267,415 - 5%  
1995 1,210,883 - 4%  
1996 1,225,937 + 1%  
1997 1,186,039 - 3%  
1998 884,273 -25%  
1999 861,789 - 3%  
2000 857,475 - 1%  
2001 853,485 ±0%  
2002 854,122 ±0%  
2003 848,163 - 1%  
2004 838,226 - 1% 2
2005 820,151 - 2% 3
2006 846,181 +3% 4

2007 data should be available in late 2010-NOV.

However, comparing two yearly values can be like equating apples and oranges.  Data for 1997 came from 52 reporting areas (the 50 states, District of Columbia and New York City). Data for 1998 was derived from only 48 reporting areas. Alaska, California, New Hampshire and Oklahoma did not release the number of abortions in their state. A better way to compare the total number of abortions from year to year is to look at data from the 48 jurisdictions that reported data in both years. For example:

Item 1997 1998 Change
Numbers of abortions, less four states 900,171 884,273 - 1.8%

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The abortion rate:

The total number of reported legal abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 years was:  1

Year

Abortion rate

Change from previous year

Reference used
1973 14 -  
1974 17 +3  
1975 18 +1  
1976 21 +3  
1977 22 +1  
1978 23 +1  
1979 24 +1  
1980 25 +1  
1981 24 -1  
1982 24 0  
1983 23 -1  
1984 24 +1  
1985 24 0  
1986 23 -1  
1987 24 +1  
1988 24 0  
1989 24 0  
1990 24 0  
1991 24 0  
1992 23 -1  
1993 23 0  
1994 21 -2  
1995 20 -1  
1996 21 +1  
1997 20 -1  
1998 17 -3  
1999 17 0  
2000 16 -1  
2001 16 0  
2002 16 0  
2003 16 0  
2004 16 0 2
2005 15 -1 3
2006 16 +1 4

2007 data should be available in late 2010-NOV.

If one were to accept all of the data that the CDC was able to collect, then the abortion rate -- the number of abortions performed per thousand women of childbearing age (15 to 44) -- shows a significant drop from 20 in 1997 to 17 in 1998. This is a reduction of 15%! However, the apples and oranges problem occurs here as well. Analyzing data for only the 48 jurisdictions which reported both years, we find:

Item 1997 1998 Change
Abortion rate 17 17 No change

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
  1. Abortion Surveillance --- United States, 1998," CDC, 2002-JUN-7, at: http://www.cdc.gov
  2. Abortion Surveillance --- United States, 2004," CDC, 2007-NOV-23, at: http://www.cdc.gov/
  3. Abortion Surveillance --- United States, 2005," CDC, 2008-NOV-28, at: http://www.cdc.gov/
  4. Abortion Surveillance --- United States, 2006," CDC, 2009-NOV-27, at: http://www.cdc.gov/
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Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" religious topics > Abortion > Facts > here

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Copyright © 2003 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2003-JAN-4
Latest update: 2010-JUN-11
Author: B.A. Robinson

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