After 30 years of steady decline, the number of abortions in the United States rose 8% between 2017 and 2020, according to a report released Wednesday, while abortion rights appear to be under more threat than ever.
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This trend reversal “underscores that the need for abortion treatment is increasing in the United States just as the Supreme Court appears poised to rule Roe v. Wade,” which has guaranteed American women’s right to abortion since 1973, writes the Guttmacher Institute in this document.
The Supreme Court is due to make a decision before the end of the month that, according to a draft judgment released in May, could set the United States back 50 years when every state was free to ban abortion on its soil.
Meanwhile, the Guttmacher Institute, which works to promote access to contraception and abortion worldwide, has identified an increase in abortions in the country for reasons that are difficult to explain at this time.
More than 930,000 abortions took place in the United States in 2020, compared to 860,000 in 2017, a rate of 14.4 abortions per thousand women of childbearing age, up from 13.5 three years earlier, according to the report. This corresponds to one in five pregnancies.
The increase is noticeable in all regions of the country, with variations from one state to another and sometimes even within them.
Local reforms could explain these differences (the opening of new clinics in one state or the state reimbursement of abortion costs…), but the global trend remains more complex to understand, according to the document.
For thirty years, the number of abortions performed annually in the United States had declined sharply – by the early 1990s it was more than 1.5 million – thanks to advances in access to contraception.
The numbers of abortion clinics collected by the Guttmacher Institute every three years relate to the USA due to the lack of complete official data.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) doesn’t have statistics for several populous states like California or Maryland and counted just 630,000 abortions in 2019.