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What the data says about abortion in the U.S.

Pew Research Center has conducted many surveys about abortion over the years, providing a lens into Americans’ views on whether the procedure should be legal, among a host of other questions. In our most recent survey, 61% of U.S. adults say abortion should be legal all or most of the time, while 37% say it should be illegal all or most of the time. With the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturning Roe v. Wadethe 1973 case that effectively legalized abortion nationwide, here is a look at the most recent available data about abortion from sources other than public opinion surveys. Following including data from Pew and Axios:

  • The last year for which the CDC reported a yearly national total for abortions is 2019. The agency says there were 629,898 abortions nationally that year, slightly up from 619,591 in 2018. Guttmacher’s latest available figures are from 2020, when it says there were 930,160 abortions nationwide, up from 916,460 in 2019.
  • The Guttmacher Institute compiles its figures after contacting every known provider of abortions – clinics, hospitals and physicians’ offices – in the country. It uses questionnaires and health department data, and it provides estimates for abortion providers that don’t respond to its inquiries. In part because Guttmacher includes figures (and in some instances, estimates) from all 50 states, its totals are higher than the CDC’s. The institute’s latest full report, and its methodology, can be found here. While the Guttmacher Institute supports abortion rights, its empirical data on abortions in the United States has been widely cited by groups and publications across the political spectrum, including by a number of those that disagree with its positions.
  • By the numbers: In 2020, the majority of U.S. abortions (54%) were medication abortions, up from 39% in 2017, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights.
  • In some European countries, up to 90% of abortions are done using pills.
  • Those younger than 30 are also arguably the most immediately affected by the decision. According the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2019, those between 20 and 29 accounted for 57 percent of all abortions. The average age that a woman has her first child is 26. And according to RAINN, 54 percent of victims of sexual violence are between the ages of 18 and 34…”

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