Abortion in the United States

After reaching a high of over 1.6 million in 1990, the number of abortions annually performed in the U.S. has begun to drop back to levels not seen since the late 1970s. 

Two independent sources confirm this decline: the government's Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI), Planned Parenthood's special research affiliate monitoring trends in the abortion industry. 

The CDC ordinarily develops its annual report on the basis of data received from 52 central health agencies (50 states plus New York City and the District of Columbia ). AGI collects its numbers from direct surveys of abortion providers.   

Because of these different methods of data collection, AGI has consistently obtained higher counts than the CDC. CDC researchers have admitted their inability to accurately account for the total number of abortions because reporting laws vary from state to state and some abortion providers probably do not report or under-report the abortions they perform. Nevertheless, because increases and decreases in CDC and AGI numbers have until recently roughly tracked one another, both sources are thought to provide useful information on abortion trends and statistics. The CDC stopped reporting estimates for some states in 1998, making the discrepancy larger. 

According to the CDC's latest full report that included all fifty states, the number of abortions performed in the U.S. in 1997 was 1,186,039, a drop of 3% from the previous year and the lowest number of annual abortions reported by the CDC since 1978 (MMWR, 12/8/00). Overall, the 1997 numbers were nearly 17% below the 1990 numbers. 

Abortions in AK, CA, NH, and OK were not counted in 1998-99 totals, and numbers for AK, CA, and NH were still missing from 2000-2001 figures. Still, for those areas that did report, additional declines were seen between 1998 and 2001. 

The AGI figures for 2001 and 2002 are estimates based on abortion reports from over 40 states, and confirm a downward trend. AGI estimates 1,293,000 abortions for 2002, a drop of 19% from the 1990 high of 1,608,600.  

Using AGI figures through 2002, estimating 1,293,000 abortions for 2003-04, and factoring in the possible 3% undercount AGI estimates for its own figures, the total number of abortions performed in the U.S. since 1973 equals 45,951,133. 

Except when noted, the following statistics are based on research published by the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI), special research affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America – the nation's largest provider and promoter of abortion.

Year Annual Number of Abortions

* Based on numbers reported by the Alan Guttmacher Institute 1973-1997
1973 744,600
1974 898,600
1975 1,034,200
1976 1,179,300
1977 1,316,700
1978 1,409,600
1979 1,497,700
1980 1,553,900
1981 1,577,300
1982 1,573,900
1983 1,575,000
1984 1,577,200
1985 1,588,600
1986 1,574,000
1987 1,559,100
1988 1,590,800
1989 1,566,900
1990 1,608,600
1991 1,556,500
1992 1,528,900
1993 1,495,000
1994 1,423,000
1995 1,359,690
1996 1,360,730
1997 1,335,000
1998 1,319,000
1999 1,314,000
2000 1,312,990
2001 *1,303,000
2002 *1,293,000
2003 **1,293,000
2004 **1,293,000
2004 Abortion Total 44,612,810

* AGI Estimates
** NRLC Base Figure

In the past, AGI has estimated a possible 3-6% rate of underreporting. This table uses the lower, unadjusted numbers.

Dest: National Right to Life Committee http://www.nrlc.org/abortion/facts/abortionstats.html.

Note: For more information concerning U.S. abortion statistics, visit the Centers for Disease Control at http://www.cdc.gov/.