Abortions Hit Recent High, With Record Number of Medical Abortions

Photo of author

By journalsofus.com

The number of annual abortions in the United States increased 10 percent between 2020 and 2023, while medication abortions became more common than ever, according to a report published Tuesday by a research and advocacy group that favors abortion rights.

The Guttmacher Institute found that there were more than 1 million abortions in the United States last year, the first time since 2012 that the number exceeded that threshold. The group also reported that medical abortions accounted for 63 percent of those performed during that time, or about 642,700 procedures, up from 53 percent in 2020.

The increase in both figures in the first full year since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade comes as more than a dozen states have largely banned abortion, and as the Supreme Court weight whether it will restrict mifepristone, a key pill that is part of the two-drug regimen used in medical abortions. Oral arguments in that case are scheduled for March 26, which will further elevate the abortion issue, which Democrats have seized on before the 2024 elections.

“This increase demonstrates that people continue to seek and obtain abortion services despite the dramatic reduction in abortion access in many states,” the report’s authors wrote. They noted that the estimates are likely an underestimate, since the figures do not include abortions that took place outside the “formal health care system” or abortion pills mailed to people in states with complete bans.

The report says the abortion rate for women and girls aged 15 to 44 increased to 15.7 abortions per 1,000 women, up from 14.4 per 1,000 in 2020.

Some of the biggest increases in abortions were in states that bordered those with the most restrictive anti-abortion laws. For example, Illinois, which borders Indiana. and Missouri, showed a 72 percent increase in abortions, while New Mexico, which borders Texas and Oklahoma, recorded 257 percent more procedures. More than 160,000 patients crossed state lines to seek care, according to the report.

More broadly, states without outright bans saw a 25 percent increase in abortions last year relative to 2020.

Increased access to the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol likely contributed to the overall increase, as more providers used virtual appointments to prescribe abortion medications by mail after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration relaxed regulations in recent years to obtaining mifepristone. A large body of research shows that mifepristone, which was first approved more than two decades ago, It is safe and effective. Mifepristone and misoprostol are used together for a medical abortion.

Tessa Longbons Cox, senior research associate at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an anti-abortion group that has criticized the FDA action, called the record number of medication abortions a “tragedy.”

“What we are witnessing is a new abortion landscape that prioritizes putting women’s health and safety last,” Cox said in a statement.

Abortion providers and advocates say that if the Supreme Court restricts access to mifepristone, the second drug in the two-drug regimen, misoprostol, could still be used terminate a pregnancy. That could cause more cramping and bleeding. Providers could also continue to perform surgical abortions.

The report found that growth in financial support for abortions also helped explain the increase.

The number of abortions started to rise in the United States in 2020 after a 30-year decline. It peaked in 1990 at 1.6 million and fell to 885,000 abortions in 2017.

Leave a comment