Abortion numbers in the US rebound after 30 years of decline

After 30 years of continuous decline, the number of pregnancy terminations rose 8% between 2017 and 2020 in the United States, according to a report published Wednesday, with the right to abortion looking more threatening than ever.

This reversal of trend underscores that the need for abortion care is growing in the United States, just as the Supreme Court appears ready to bury Roe v. Wade which since 1973 has guaranteed the right of American women to have an abortion, the Guttmacher Institute writes in this document.

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The Supreme Court must issue a ruling before the end of the month, which, according to a draft ruling revealed in May, could set the United States back 50 years, when every state was free to ban the termination of pregnancy on its territory.

Meanwhile, the Guttmacher Institute, which campaigns for access to contraceptives and abortion worldwide, has noted an increase in abortions in the country, the causes of which seem difficult to explain at this point.

More than 930,000 abortions were performed in 2020 in the United States compared to 860,000 in 2017, a rate of 14.4 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age compared to 13.5 three years earlier, according to its report. This corresponds to one in five pregnancies.

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The increase is noticeable in all regions of the country, with variations from state to state and sometimes within.

Local reforms can explain these differences (opening new clinics in the state, or state reimbursement for 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 has fallen sharply—it exceeded 1.5 million until the early 1990s—thanks to advances in access to contraceptives.

The figures that the Guttmacher Institute collects every three years from clinics that perform abortions refer to the United States in the absence of complete official data.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not have statistics for many densely populated states, such as California or Maryland, and only counted 630,000 abortions in 2019.

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