1 in 5 US Pregnancies Ended in Abortion in 2020

Abortion is on the rise in all regions, even as Supreme Court looks poised to curtail access
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2022 7:11 AM CDT
1 in 5 US Pregnancies Ended in Abortion in 2020
A sign indicating a "Medical Facility Quiet Zone" is displayed outside the Jackson Women's Health Organization clinic in Jackson, Miss., the state's only state licensed abortion facility, on Nov. 18, 2020.   (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

One in five pregnancies in the US in 2020 ended in abortion, according to 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. US abortions increased 8% from 2017, when there were 862,320 performed (18.4% of all pregnancies), to 2020, when there were 930,160 (20.6%), according to data released Wednesday by the group. This reverses 30 years of declining numbers, per Reuters. "In the 20-something years I've been doing research on abortion at Guttmacher, this is the first time we've had an increase in abortion over two years," says study co-author Rachel Jones.

A 2019 study found 39% of US women aged 15-44 would need to travel further distances to access abortion (249 miles on average) if the Supreme Court overturns the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion federally, as a leaked draft opinion indicates it will do later this month. It also found the abortion rate would fall by nearly 33% in the following year. But Jones says Guttmacher's data shows the impact could be even greater. "The need for abortion is growing at a time when the Supreme Court is getting ready to strike down Roe v. Wade," she says, per NPR. The abortion rate increased in all regions over the three years: in the West (12%), Midwest (10%), South (8%) and Northeast (2%).

Abortions were up 103% in Oklahoma, which has just passed a law banning abortion starting at conception, and 40% in Mississippi. Missouri, left with one abortion provider, saw a 96% decrease, while next-door Illinois saw a 25% increase, which Reuters suggests means that some Missouri women may have crossed state lines. There was also a 9% increase in Florida and a 5% increase in Texas. That's despite the fact that abortion was essentially barred in Texas in 2020 during COVID-19 restrictions. The report notes many people lost access to contraceptives through restrictions applied to public programs under former President Trump, which "may have resulted in more unintended pregnancies and greater need for abortion care." In many states, women also received expanded coverage of abortion care under Medicaid, it notes. (Read more abortion stories.)

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