U.S. abortion ratio by year.
What affects the abortion
rate & ratio?
The abortion ratio:
The same problem appears here as well. The
CDC's reported abortion ratio -- the total number of reported abortions per 1,000 live births --
dropped significantly from 306 to 264 between 1997 and 1998. This is an apparent reduction of 13.7%! But, when one looks only at the 47 reporting areas that submitted data for both
years, the reduction was only 275 to 265, a reduction of 4%. 2
Change from previous year
2007 data should be available in late 2010-NOV.
The value for 1973 is unrealistically low. It does not include many illegal
abortions in the first part of the year before the U.S. Supreme Court issued its
Roe v. Wade ruling that made early abortions freely available throughout the
During the year 2000, the ratio of abortions to live births dropped below 1 in 4 for
the first time since 1975. It has remained so for the rest of the 00's.
What influences the abortion number, rate and ratio in the U.S.?
There are many factors can reduce abortions. Some are:
Good economic conditions: women might elect to not have an abortion if
they are more secure financially.
"...a shift in the age distribution of reproductive-age women toward
the older and less fertile ages..." 2
"reduced access to abortion services..." 2
Many counties in the U.S. have no medical facility which performs
Increasing numbers of medical facilities are being operated by the Roman Catholic church,
which refuse to provide abortions, or to refer women to clinics that perform abortions.
Many states have passed laws requiring parental notification or consent
for young women before they can have an abortion. This drives some women to
have an illegal abortion (which are not counted) or to have an abortion in
another state or country where laws are more lax.
Some states have implemented mandatory waiting periods before a woman
can obtain an abortion. This can discourage some women from continuing with
An increase in oral sex, anal sex and other non-procreative sexual
activities as a substitute for sexual intercourse.
Fear of attending an abortion clinic. Some women's health centers have
been bombed and set on fire; some clinic staff have been shot and/or killed;
demonstrators and "sidewalk counselors" have harassed patients entering the building, etc.
An increase in the frequency of contraception usage, for whatever reason:
Access to comprehensive sex education.
Near universal access to contraceptive information via the Internet.
Greater openness to discussing sex.
Easier access to condoms. Some high schools and colleges have installed
condom dispensers and/or distribute contraceptive through in-school clinics.
A change in the U.S. culture which makes abortion less acceptable to
The introduction of RU-486 and other non-surgical, medically induced
abortifacients. A woman who might reject a surgical abortion might find an "abortion
pill" more acceptable.
The use of more reliable contraceptive methods. Long-acting hormonal contraceptive methods
were introduced in the early 1990s.
A reduction in the frequency of heterosexual intercourse, due to fear of
AIDS or other STDs.
A growth in the number of born-again, and/or Fundamentalist, and/or Evangelical Christians
"Born again" Protestants constitute about 30% of the American adult population, but are responsible for only about 18% of abortions in the U.S. 3
An small increase in the number of youths who choose abstinence until marriage. This program fails in about 90% of all youth, but that number is slowly dropping.
The increasing rates of STDs among women, which can cause infertility by blocking or scarring their fallopian tubes.
Pro-life and religiously conservative groups and individuals frequently associate the reduction in the number and rate of abortion with the decrease in
comprehensive sex-ed classes, the increase in abstinence only sex-ed classes, and the implementation of
the "True Love Waits" and similar programs.
Pro-choice and religiously liberal groups and individual frequently associate
the reduction with the availability of emergency contraceptive, more frequent use of birth
control, and other factors.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Lilo T. Strauss, et al., "Abortion Surveillance --- United States, 2003,"
CDC, 2006-NOV-24, at: http://www.cdc.gov/