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In the United States, 1 in 5 pregnancies ended in abortion in 2020

The number of women seeking abortions in the U.S. rose in 2020, reversing a 30-year trend of declining numbers.

Lobby of the Maryland carafem health center. Credit - Davidjolson (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Lobby of the Maryland carafem health center. Credit - Davidjolson (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The number of women seeking abortions in the U.S. rose in 2020, reversing a 30-year trend of declining numbers.

One in five pregnancies ended in abortion in 2020, according to the research group Guttmacher Institute, which campaigns for abortion access and says the impact of a Roe v. Wade reversal will be even more devastating than previously thought. 

The new data shows that in 2020, there were 930,160 abortions in the United States, an 8 percent increase from 862,320 abortions in 2017. The data also showed that the number of abortions increased in all four regions of the country between 2017 and 2020.

The increase in abortion was accompanied by a 6 percent decline in births between 2017 and 2020. Because there were many more births (3.6 million) than abortions, this means that fewer people were getting pregnant and, for those who did, a larger number chose to have an abortion.

“The long-term decline in abortion is over, and the number of abortions in the United States is actually increasing,” said Rachel K. Jones, a research scientist who co-authored an analysis of the data for Guttmacher, a research group that supports abortion rights, reports NPR.Org.

Several reasons for abortion rates suggested

The report lists several potential factors that may have contributed to the increase. Some states expanded Medicaid coverage or funds for abortion care that allowed low-income women to easier access abortions.

Another possibility is that some women lost access to contraceptive care under restrictions in public programs during Republican Donald Trump’s presidency, which may have led to more unintended pregnancies, the report said, according to Reuters.

And while the country, as a whole, saw an increase in abortions, the largest uptick was in the West and Midwest. At the state level, the numbers varied widely depending on local circumstances.

Depending on a state’s restrictions or the number of abortion clinics available, the numbers per state varied. For example, in Mississippi, the number of abortions increased 40 percent between 2017 and 2020. Mississippi has only one abortion clinic and, in the past, facilities in neighboring states were closer for many Mississippi residents.

Roe v Wade implications

The increase in abortions means that the impact of overturning the Supreme Court’s decision in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case, which legalized abortion at the federal level in the United States, would be bigger than anticipated, said researcher Rachel Jones, co-author of the study.

Jones says that if Roe v Wade is overturned next month, there will be a decline in abortions, as some patients in states with restrictive laws will be unable to travel to obtain an abortion.

“The need for abortion is growing at a time when the Supreme Court is getting ready to strike down Roe v. Wade,” Jones said.

Written By

Karen Graham is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for environmental news. Karen's view of what is happening in our world is colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in man's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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