New Abortion Trends in the U.S. – A First Look

At a Glance

  • 2018 data shows abortions increased for the first time in over a decade (1.8% increase from 2017)
  • States’ attitudes toward abortion matter. Between 2017 and 2018, abortions increased by 4% among states that are permissive of abortion, but by only 1% among states that are protective of life
  • Chemical abortions increased 8.8%, making up 41% of total abortions in 2018
  • As of August 2020, only 38 states had reported abortion data for 2018

Abortions Up for the First Time in Over a Decade

Abortions increased for the first time in over a decade. Among the 38 states that released abortion reports in 2017 and 2018, abortions increased by almost two percent. For the past several years, the decline in abortions has been slowing down, and now it has reversed.

Overall Abortion Rate, 2009 - 2018 (37 States)

Abortion Rate Increasing More Rapidly in Permissive States

States’ attitudes toward abortion matter. Between 2017 and 2018, abortions increased by 3.9% among permissive states, but by only 0.2% among protective states. Not only are total abortions much lower in protective states, the abortion rate and ratio are as well – in the protective group of states, a smaller proportion of women get abortions, and fewer pregnancies end in abortion.

Percentage Increase in Abortion Rates, 2017 - 2018

Chemical Abortions Rising

Chemical abortion has helped to drive up the abortion rate, reflecting the growing reliance of the abortion industry on chemical abortion. Between 2017 and 2018, chemical abortions increased by 9%. Even as surgical abortion procedures continue to decline, chemical abortions are rising, making up 41% of the total in 2018. This is cause for concern as chemical abortions are performed later and later in pregnancy and with less and less medical oversight.

Chemical and Surgical/Other Abortions, 2014-2018 (29 States)

Abortions by Type, 2018 (33 States)

A Note on Our Research

Only 38 out of the 50 states have released 2018 abortion reports as of August 2020, and those that have failed to report are disproportionately permissive states, meaning that the increase in abortions could be even larger. Of those, 37 reported every year 2009-2018. Since there is no national requirement for abortion reporting, and without accurate reporting from every state, we cannot get a complete grasp on abortion trends in the United States.

The above statistics represent the most complete trends we have observed for the U.S., based upon the incomplete data available.