U.S. Abortion Rates & Related Information

By OBOS Abortion Contributors | March 22, 2014

Abortion is one of the most common medical procedures in the United States. About 1 in 5 pregnancies, excluding miscarriages, end in abortion.

U.S. abortion rates, according to the Guttmacher Institute, have declined from a high of 29.3 per 1,000 women age 15 to 44 in 1981 to 14.6 per 1,000 women in 2014. Close to 1 million legal abortions were performed in the United States in 2014. If these rates continue, about one in four women in the United States will have an abortion by age 45.

In 2015, according to the CDC, the vast majority of abortions (91.1%) were performed at at or before 13 weeks’ gestation. A smaller number of abortions (7.6%) were performed at 14–20 weeks’ gestation, and even fewer (1.3%) were performed at ≥21 weeks’ gestation.

There are many misconceptions about who has an abortion. As the following statistics demonstrate, women who have abortions cannot be put in a single category. In 2014,

  • More than half of all people who had abortions were in their twenties. 12% were 19 or younger.
  • White people accounted for 39% of abortion procedures, Black people for 28%, Hispanics for 25% and patients of other races and ethnicities for 9%. 
  • About 6 in 10 U.S. women obtaining an abortion report a religious affiliation. Seventeen percent identified as mainline Protestant, 13% as evangelical Protestant and 24% as Catholic; 38% reported no religious affiliation and the remaining 8% reported some other affiliation.
  • Poor and low-income women accounted for nearly three quarters of all abortions. Twenty-six percent had incomes of 100–199% of the federal poverty level, and 49% had incomes of less than 100% of the federal poverty level. In 2014, the federal poverty threshold was $15,730 for a family of two.
  • About 60 percent of abortions are obtained by women who have one or more children.

The most common reasons women give for having an abortion include concern for or responsibility to other individuals; inability to afford (another) child; interference with work, school, or the ability to care for dependents; difficulties with husbands or partners; and not wanting to be a single parent.