“No woman resorts to abortion light-heartedly,” – said the French health minister Simone Veil who fought and gave French women the right of abortion. Indeed, the abortion statistics indicate that this is a subject not taken lightly by anyone, and we can see it clearly in the vigorous protests of the pro-choice and pro-life movements in the US.
The question of abortion and its legal status remains actual worldwide even as we enter 2021, taking the lives of tens of thousands of women who are performing it illegally.
Where and what the most used methods are, the motivations behind this act, and how abortion reflects on the society we live in are all questions answered by these figures and facts, so if you are wondering, read on.
Top Ten Key Abortion Statistics
- 26 countries around the globe strictly forbid abortion under any circumstances.
- 90 million women globally have no right to abortion.
- 25% of all worldwide pregnancies from 2010 to 2014 ended in induced abortions.
- 70,000 women die each year due to unsafe abortion methods.
- 22% of pregnancies in the US are terminated voluntarily every year.
- Almost 27% of Americans think that abortion should be legal regardless of the circumstances.
- Women aged 20-29 years accounted for 59% of all legal abortions in the US in 2015.
- The District of Columbia has the highest abortion rate nationwide in 2017.
- In 2016 Almost 30% of the performed abortions in the US were non-surgical.
- 69% of abortions in the US are paid for entirely out of pocket.
Abortion Statistics Worldwide
How do different countries treat abortion? How many women resort to it? These are just some of the questions we’re about to answer to shed light on stark differences when it comes to the right of women to make a choice on parenthood.
1. The abortion laws in 26 countries around the globe strictly forbid it under any circumstances.
Across the globe, particularly in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, women are being prosecuted and jailed for abortion. The anti-abortion laws are so strict that the fetus’s right to live is considered more important than its mother’s life.
So, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, El Salvador, Egypt, Iraq, Myanmar, the Philippines, and 18 other countries around the globe don’t allow abortion for any reason, as shown on the map published by the Center for Reproductive Rights. (CRR).
2. 90 million women globally have no legal right to choose abortion, statistics worldwide in 2018 reveal.
(Reuters) (Reproductive Rights)
Around 5% of the women of reproductive age worldwide have no legal right to abortion whatsoever, and some 41% of women live in countries with restrictive abortion laws.
Additionally, 22% of women in their childbearing years worldwide are allowed to abort only if their life is at risk, and 14% (237 million) are allowed to do so on different physical and mental health grounds. Finally, some 590 million women of reproductive age (36%) live in countries with laws that allow it freely, on request.
3. Statistics on abortion indicate that 25% of all pregnancies worldwide ended up with induced abortions.
Based on the WHO data collected between 2010 and 2014, there were approximately 56 million abortions worldwide each year, meaning that some 3,000 abortions were happening each day. The estimated global abortion ratio was 35 abortions per 1000 women in the age group between 15 and 44.
4. Abortion statistics worldwide show that approximately 70,000 women die each year due to unsafe abortion methods.
Abortion safety statistics reveal that approximately 25 million women worldwide each year undergo an unsafe abortion procedure that happens in developing countries in the vast majority of cases. Abortion side effects are the cause of up to 13.2% of maternal deaths each year.
Following data from the World Health Organization (WHO), Africa has the highest death incidence as a direct cause of abortion.
5. Only 33% of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa allow abortion when incest or rape are the reasons for abortion, statistics reveal.
Only 4 out of 18 countries in the Middle East and North Africa, and slightly more than 3 in 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, allow abortion in the case of incest or rape.
As per the United Nations data in 2013, in the Middle East-North Africa region and sub-Saharan Africa, only two countries allow abortions on any grounds. In contrast, one-third of the countries in the Asia-Pacific region (which include China, Australia, and Turkey) have laws permitting this practice on request.
6. 73% of the countries in Europe allow abortion on request, European abortion facts confirm.
(Pew Research) (US News)
In Europe, abortion on request or on the socioeconomic ground is legal in 25 countries out of the 28 country-members. Similarly, 40 out of 47 Council of Europe country-members allow abortion on these grounds.
Malta and the Vatican entirely prohibit abortion, and San Marino and Andorra have similarly strict laws. In Liechtenstein, abortion is legal only if the pregnancy is a threat to the mother’s physical or mental health.
In Monaco, abortion is allowed in cases of incest, rape, fetal health issues and to preserve the health of the mother.
7. Pro-abortion facts reveal that both men and women share the same views on abortion legalization in Europe.
The results of a Pew Research survey revealed that, in general, a very similar share of men and women in Europe think that abortion should be legal.
For example, in Sweden, 93% of men and 95% of women agree that abortion should be legal, making this EU country the biggest supporter of abortion rights. On the other hand, only 7% of the male responders from Georgia and 12% of the women support legal abortion.
8. Abortion statistics in 2018 indicate that around 90% of the abortions done in the Nordic countries were induced by medications.
Nearly 8 million women in the high-income countries underwent an abortion procedure between 2010 and 2014, and more than half of those abortions were carried out with the use of medication – currently, one of the most frequently used abortion methods in developed countries.
As per data published in a BMJ study, at least two-thirds of all abortions in the Northern European countries were done this way, 97% in Finland, and 93% of abortions in Sweden, in contrast to this, in Western Europe, over three-quarters of abortions were surgical.
US Abortion Statistics — Legal Aspects, Demographics, and Frequency
America legalized abortion almost 50 years ago, saving thousands of lives that were lost every year due to complications from unprofessional abortions performed illegally.
Here are some stats and facts on how many women opt for abortions, why and how different US states treat it.
9. 22% of pregnancies in the US are voluntarily terminated each year.
The CDC data for 2016, based on the state and territorial reports of 48 US states and territories, reveals 186 abortions per 1,000 live births nationwide. In numbers, there were 623,471 performed abortions in the US in 2016.
10. A decrease of 24% in the number of abortions was noted by the CDC over the course of 9 years.
The CDC abortion statistics expose a significant decrease in the number of abortions per year from 2007 to 2016. The abortion ratio also decreased by 18% during this time interval. Following the data from the abortion-providing facilities between 2011 and 2017, the national abortion rate dropped by 20.1% between 2011 and 2017.
Furthermore, the CDC data reveals that abortion rates are drastically lower than in 2007– by 33% for non-Hispanic Caucasian women, 29% for non-Hispanic African American women, and a staggering 44% for Hispanic women.
11. US abortion statistics in 2019 reveal that almost half of the American states prohibit abortion after a specific time of gestation.
The abortion laws in 24 American states prohibit abortion after a specific time during the pregnancy. For example, in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Florida, women can have an abortion within 24 gestational weeks. (24th week after they had their last period).
The majority of other states are not that generous, and they usually limit the legal abortions to 22 gestational weeks.
In Mississippi and North Carolina, the state-imposed threshold is only 20 weeks into the pregnancy. However, most of these states allow for late-term abortions when the pregnancy presents a health or life risk for the pregnant woman.
12. Abortion statistics in 2019 show that almost 27% of Americans think that abortion should be legal regardless of the circumstances.
(Pew Research) (Pew Forum)
Almost six-in-ten US adults (57% of men and 60% of women) believe that abortion should be made legal in most cases, but they rarely take an absolutistic position on this question. For example, as indicated in a Pew Research survey, 37% of Americans believe that abortion should be illegal in most cases, but only 12% believe abortion should be illegal in all cases.
Furthermore, several factors, such as political ideology, religion, education, and race, were shown to influence abortion opinions in the US.
13. Abortion facts and statistics reveal that around 30% of the US’s performed abortions in 2016 were non-surgical.
Almost two-thirds of abortions in the US in 2016 were performed before or at the 8th gestational week, as per CDC abortion information.
Besides, a staggering 91% of the abortions were done before the 13th week of gestation, leaving a small portion of 7.7% performed between the 14th and the 20th week. Finally,1.2% of the abortions in 2016 were done after the 21st gestational week.
Abortion safety statistics in the US for this year show that a small part (0.1%) of the abortions were done by uncommon methods, and 3.4% were performed medically prior to the 8th week.
14. CDC abortion statistics show that women in the age group 20-29 accounted for 59% of all legal abortions in the US in 2015.
The most recent available data on abortion rates in the US show that 19.1 abortions are done per 1,000 women aged 20 to 24 years, making this age subgroup the one with the highest abortion rates in America.
Furthermore, abortion statistics from 2015 show that almost 60% of the total number of abortions performed that year were on women in their twenties.
Teenage abortions accounted for 10% of the abortions that year, and in 28% of cases, women aged 30-39 were those opting for abortions.
15. Girls aged 19 accounted for the highest number of abortions among teenagers in the US in 2016, abortion statistics confirm.
A total of 46,980 abortions in the US were performed on girls aged 19 or younger in 2016, out of which, 18,446 were among 19 year-olds, as stated in the teenage pregnancy statistics. Among these, 1,232 abortions were done on schoolgirls aged 15 or younger, and some 2,357 on 15 year-olds.
In comparison, this year’s international abortion information reveals that some 2.4 million adolescent women in the poorest regions of Asia underwent abortion.
16. Non-Hispanic Caucasian and African American women accounted for the biggest share of abortions, as shown in the abortion statistics by race in 2016.
In 38% of abortions, women were non-Hispanic African Americans, as shown in the CDC report for 2016. Nearly as many women who had an abortion that year (35%) were non-Hispanic Caucasians. Hispanic women accounted for 18.8% of the total number of abortions.
The rate of abortion for women aged 15 to 44 years, on the other hand, was lowest among the non-Hispanic Caucasian women (6.6 abortions per 1,000) and highest among non-Hispanic women of African origin (25.1 abortions per 1,000 women).
17. US abortion statistics by state expose the highest abortion rate in the District of Columbia in 2017.
In 2017, the District of Columbia counted 30.2 abortions per 1,000 American women between the ages of 15 and 44 – the highest rate among American states for that year. The national average abortion rate for that year was 13.5 abortions for every 1000 American women.
In 2017, the abortion rates in the states of New York and New Jersey were equal (26.3 abortions per 1,000 women), ranking second per rate of performed abortions. On the other hand, Wyoming (1.3), South Dakota (3.1), and Kentucky (3.8) had the lowest abortion rates.
18. Reasons for abortion statistics reveal that 48% of women that underwent an abortion did it because of difficulties in their relationships.
Single mother statistics describe the difficulties faced by this category of people on an everyday basis, and these were the reasons behind the decision for abortion in 48% of abortion cases as per research done by the Guttmacher Institute in 2005.
Typically, the motivations behind the decision of abortion are complex and multiple. However, according to the study, in 74% of cases, these reasons can be grouped as interference with the women’s professional or educational life and difficulties caring for dependents.
19. Around 1% of abortions in the US are due to rape, abortion stats confirm.
(Forbes) (Lozier Institute)
Following the statistics for the self-reported motivation for abortion from the Guttmacher Institute, the reason behind 1% of abortions was rape, and for 1-2% of cases, it was incest. Abortion safety statistics revealed that 12% of women indicated that health concerns were their primary reason for abortion.
Surprisingly, there are no birth defects in abortion statistics, although some sources state that the abortion rate of babies with Down syndrome, for example, was reduced from 90% to only 53% in the last few years.
20. US abortion facts state that 69% of abortions in the US are paid for entirely out of pocket.
According to one article published in Forbes, a first-trimester abortion under insurance in the US costs $397, and a second-trimester procedure costs $854. However, statistics show that only 22.6% of abortions performed in the first term and 25% of abortions in the second term are insurance-covered. Moreover, a survey led by the Guttmacher Institute concludes that some 7.3% of insurance different from Medicare was used.
When did abortions become legal?
In the US, abortion has been legal since January 1973, thanks to the case of Roe v. Wade. After the judgment, abortion became a constitutional right for every American woman. With this, American women can choose to become mothers when they are ready or even live childless. An increasing number of women do, a trend confirmed by the voluntary childlessness statistics.
What percentage of pregnancies are aborted?
On a global scale, around 25% of the pregnancies are voluntarily terminated. This percentage is estimated at 22% of the total number of pregnancies each year in the US.
What percentage of abortions are medically necessary?
Following the results from a 2004 study, 12% of women stated that their decision to do an abortion was made because of worries about their own health (6%), the health of the fetus (5%), the use of tobacco, drugs, and alcohol (5%), and the use of prescription drugs or birth control (1%).
When do most abortions occur?
Almost 66% of the abortions in the US were done prior to the 8th gestational week in 2016, and some 91% of the abortions were done at or before the 13th week of gestation.
An increasing number of women around the globe each year have the right to control their reproduction by means of legal abortion, and with it, the right to protect their health, professional life, and economic situation.
However, the slow progression of the more permitting abortion laws across the world still puts the wellbeing of many women in danger. These abortion statistics confirm a long road ahead until we reach a global consensus on this question and a legal status that will be convenient for all.