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


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Abortion statistics

U.S. abortion ratio by year.
What affects the abortion number, rate & ratio?
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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


Abortion ratio

Change from previous year

Reference used
1973 196 -  
1974 242 +46  
1975 272 +30  
1976 312 +40  
1977 325 +13  
1978 347 +22  
1979 358 +11  
1980 359 +1  
1981 358 -1  
1982 354 -4  
1983 349 -5  
1984 364 +15  
1985 364 0  
1986 354 -10  
1987 356 +2  
1988 352 -4  
1989 346 -6  
1990 344 -2  
1991 338 -6  
1992 334 -4  
1993 333 -1  
1994 321 -12  
1995 311 -10  
1996 315 +4  
1997 306 -9  
1998 264 -42  
1999 256 -8  
2000 245 -11  
2001 246 +1  
2002 246 0  
2003 241 -5  
2004 238 -3 13
2005 233 -5 14
2006 236 +3 15

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 U.S.

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.

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What influences the abortion number, rate and ratio in the U.S.?

There are many factors can reduce abortions. Some are:

bullet Good economic conditions: women might elect to not have an abortion if they are more secure financially.
bullet "...a shift in the age distribution of reproductive-age women toward the older and less fertile ages..." 2
bullet "reduced access to abortion services..." 2
bullet Many counties in the U.S. have no medical facility which performs abortions.
bullet 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.

bullet 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.
bullet Some states have implemented mandatory waiting periods before a woman can obtain an abortion. This can discourage some women from continuing with an abortion.
bullet An increase in oral sex, anal sex and other non-procreative sexual activities as a substitute for sexual intercourse.
bullet 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.
bullet An increase in the frequency of contraception usage, for whatever reason:
bullet Access to comprehensive sex education.
bullet Near universal access to contraceptive information via the Internet.
bullet Greater openness to discussing sex.
bullet Easier access to condoms. Some high schools and colleges have installed condom dispensers and/or distribute contraceptive through in-school clinics.
bullet A change in the U.S. culture which makes abortion less acceptable to women.
bullet 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.
bullet The use of more reliable contraceptive methods. Long-acting hormonal contraceptive methods were introduced in the early 1990s.
bullet An increase in the usage of emergency contraception -- a.k.a. the morning-after pill. This reduces the number of unwanted pregnancies, and thus the number of abortions. See following essay.
bullet 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

bullet 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.
bullet 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.

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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. Lilo T. Strauss, et al., "Abortion Surveillance --- United States, 2003," CDC, 2006-NOV-24, at: http://www.cdc.gov/
  2. "Abortion Surveillance---United States, 1998," CDC, 2002-JUN-7, at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/
  3. J.L. Lambert & Fred Jackson, "Study shows high percentage of abortions performed on Evangelicals," Agape Press, at: http://headlines.agapepress.org/

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Site navigation: Home > "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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