Legal abortions per 100 live births in the U.S. 1973-2016

The rate of legal abortions in the United States has decreased over the last few decades. In 2016, there were nearly 19 legal abortions per 100 live births, whereas the rate was 34 abortions per 100 live births in the year 1990. States within the U.S. have the right to enact laws that restrict the practice and availability of abortion, meaning that access to such procedures varies significantly depending on the state or region.

Abortion in the U.S.

In 2016, there were a over 623,000 legal abortions in the United States. Abortion rates in the U.S. are highest among women aged 20 to 24 years and more common among unmarried women than those who are married. In 2016, there were approximately 38 legal abortions per 100 live births among unmarried women compared to four abortions per 100 live births among women who were married.

Public opinion

The issue of abortion has been and remains a divisive topic among the general public and continues to be a relevant political issue. As of May 2019, around 49 percent of the population was estimated to be pro-life, while 46 percent were pro-choice and 2 percent mixed or neither. However, this distribution has fluctuated over the years, with pro-choicers accounting for a larger percentage than pro-lifers as recently as 2017.

Legal abortions per 100 live births reported in the U.S. from 1973 to 2016 (per 100 live births)*

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Release date

November 2019


United States

Survey time period

1973 to 2016

Age group

15-44 years

Supplementary notes

* Because overall trends in abortion data are affected by the number of reporting areas that provide data to CDC on an annual basis, CDC also presents estimates for the 47 reporting areas that provided data for the entire period from 2003 to 2014. The 47 continuous reporting areas include all states except California, Louisiana, Maryland, New Hampshire, and West Virginia. The District of Columbia and New York City are included in the 47 continuous reporting areas.
This statistic was assembled from several editions of CDC's Abortion Surveillance.

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