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U.S. abortion data

Timing, age, race, access, etc.

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When abortions are done:

bullet There is a trend in which abortions are being performed sooner:
  Gestational age 1992 1 1998 2 2000 16 2006 17
  Less than 6 weeks   19% 23% 30%
  Less than 7 weeks 13.8%     18
  In the 7th week 15.2 18% 18% 14
  In the 8th week 20.9 19% 17%  
  Less than 13 weeks 88% 88% 87%  
  During the first trimester 91%      
  During the second trimester 9%      
  After 20 weeks     1%  

bullet With the availability of RU-486 and other methods of terminating pregnancies at an early stage, an increasing percentage of women are having abortions before six weeks gestation. But the percentage of women who have such early abortions varies greatly across the country. In 2006, the latest year for which data is available, this varied from 7.2% in New York State to 46% in Iowa.
bullet Elective terminations during third trimester: essentially none; one source estimates a total of 100 across the country (0.01%); others estimate a few thousand per year in the U.S.
bullet Required hysterotomies: about 4,000/yr. (0.2%). These are procedures similar to caesarian sections, except that the result is a dead fetus.
bullet D&X Abortions: (a.k.a. "Partial Birth Abortions) Estimates ranged from 450 per year (0.02%) to ten times that number. The higher value appears to have been calculated by extrapolating data from one New Jersey hospital across the U.S. What is almost never explained in information sources on D&X abortions is the reason for the procedure. It is generally done for serious medical reasons,

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Age, race and marital status:

bullet In 2006, 16.8% of women having abortions were teenagers; about half (49.2%) were under 25 years-of-age. 17
bullet The abortion ratio -- the ratio of abortions to live births -- is highest (754) among those under 15 years-of-age, and lowest (140) among women 30 to 34 years-of-age.
bullet 81.3% of the women having abortions were unmarried. Mississippi had the highest rate (92.0%); Utah the lowest (64.1%)4
bullet The rate of teen-age abortions has dropped steadily, from 31 per 1,000 women in 1983 to 21 per 1,000 women in 1994 to 17.4 in 2006. 5,17
bullet Abortions are relatively rare among married women (8.1 per 100 live births) vs. those by unmarried women (75 per 100 live births). 6,7 These numbers were 7.8 and 65.5 in 1996. 4
bullet CDC figures for 1995 show that 20% of women having abortions are in their teens; 33% are ages 20 to 24, and 47% are ages 25 or older.
bullet In 1996, about 57% of women who receive legal abortions were white. The abortion rate was 55.5 per 100 live births for black women, 20.2 for white women, and 36 for women of other races. 4
bullet Almost half of American women (43%) will have an abortion sometime in their lifetime.

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Reasons for abortion:

bullet Essentially all abortions are done because the woman simply does not want to be pregnant. Only a small minority are done for medical necessary reasons -- i.e. to prevent the woman from dying or to prevent the pregnancy from causing her a major disability.
bullet Older pregnant women are often urged to undergo a procedure called amniocentesis, in order to determine if the fetus has a genetic disorder. We have not been able to find any statistical data on the percentage of couples that elect to have an abortion after a disorder is detected.  There is some anecdotal information that it is close to 100%.
bullet During the year 2000, in England and Wales, there were 175,000 abortions performed. Of these, 134 of these were performed because of a risk to the woman's life. Over 162,000, (92%) were solely on the grounds of risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the woman. The latter terms are interpreted very broadly in England as they are in North America. 9
bullet More details

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The procedure:

bullet 98% of surgical abortions in the US were done by a suction technique, either by manual vacuum aspiration or by surgery5
bullet Fewer than 0.5% are done by intrauterine saline or prostaglandin instillation.
bullet Fewer than 0.01% were done by hysterectomy or hysterotomy
bulletIn Michigan during 1995:
bullet 0.06% of abortions involved complications (usually shock).
bullet 35% of abortions were performed in freestanding clinics; 64% in physician's offices; essentially none in hospitals. 12
bullet In the US, 69% of abortions are performed at 441 abortion clinics 12

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Access to abortions:

bullet In 1996, 86% of all U.S. counties had no abortion provider. 92% of the counties had no abortion provider who performed 400 or more abortions annually. 13
bullet In 1986, 32% of women of reproductive age lived in counties with no abortion provider. 14
bullet Access to abortion, particularly for women in rural locations, is expected to improve as medical abortions using RU-486 become generally available for abortions at up to 7 weeks gestation.
bullet United Nations statistics show that access to abortion is only legal in 27% of countries worldwide. Virtually no government in Africa allows abortion access, although Kenya was considering it as of 2001-OCT. 15

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Other factors:

bullet Roman Catholic women have abortions at a significantly higher rate than Protestants. 16
bullet Students have abortions at a higher rate than those who are not. 16

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You can safely buy books on abortion from's online bookstore:

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  1. "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report," Centers for Disease Control, Vol. 43, #50, 1994-DEC-23.
  2. "Abortion surveillance - U.S., 1998," National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC, at:
  3. Report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,  reported in Religion Today 1998-DEC-4.
  4. "Abortion surveillance - U.S., 1996," National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC, at:
  5. Alan Guttmacher Institute data, quoted in "Fewer Teens Getting Abortions in Virginia," at:
  6. National Center for Health Statistics
  7. Ohio Right to Life has complied extensive data on the numbers of abortions per 100 live births. Their list is at: 
  8. "Abortion Statistics Annual Reference Volume," Office for National Statistics, 2000. Mentioned in "Parliament of Ireland, Messages from select committees," 2001-OCT-25, at:
  9. Ohio Right to Life has complied extensive data on the numbers of abortions per 100 live births. Their list is at: 
  10. J.L. Lambert & Fred Jackson, "Study shows high percentage of abortions performed on Evangelicals," Agape Press, at:
  11. S.K. Henshaw & K. Kost, "Abortion patients in 1994-1995: Characteristics and contraceptive use," Family Planning Perspectives, Vol. 28, #4, 1996-JUL/AUG. Online at: 
  12. Planned Parent Advocates of Michigan at:
  13. S.K. Henshaw, "Abortion incidence and services in the United States, 1995-1996," Family Planning Perspectives, Vol. 30, #6, 1998-NOV/DEC. Online at: 
  14. "Pro-life Group Opposes Plan on Abortion," The Nation (Nairobi, Kenya), 2001-OCT-10, at:
  15. U.S. News and World Report, 1998-JAN-19, Pages 20 - 22.
  16. "Abortion Surveillance --- United States, 2000," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2003-NOV-28, at:
  17. "Abortion Surveillance --- United States, 2006," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009-NOV-27, at:

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Copyright © 1995 to 2004 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last updated: 200
Author: B.A. Robinson

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