U.S. abortions hit highest level in more than a decade, driven by rise in medical abortion

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Medical abortion has become a more popular option than ever, as the total number of abortions in the US surpassed one million for the first time in more than a decade, according to two new reports.



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Abortions are on the rise in the United States, despite bans that have gone into effect in more than a dozen states since the US Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision that overturned the federal right to abortion in June 2022.

There were more than 1 million abortions in the US in 2023, the highest rate in more than a decade and a 10% increase from 2020, according to a report released Tuesday by the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization focused on sexual and reproductive health that supports abortion rights. Recent trends also suggest that medical abortion is a more common option than ever.

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Although abortions practically ceased In the 14 states with complete bans, nearly every other state had an increase in the number of abortions performed between 2020 and 2023. As the geography of abortion care changed amid a fractured political landscape, the 10-fold increase % in abortions nationally meant that states without outright bans experienced a 25% increase in those years.

The “drastic loss of access in ban states has been offset by monumental efforts by clinics, abortion funds, and logistical support organizations to help people in ban states access care through financial and practical,” the report’s authors wrote.

States bordering those with bans had particularly large increases, but abortions also increased in other states where they remained legal.

“It is quite possible that, while access was dramatically reduced for people living in states with bans, access improved substantially for residents of states without bans,” the authors wrote.

In addition to state policies enacted to protect patients and access to care and increased financial support from abortion funds, Guttmacher Institute researchers suggest that improved access to telehealth in recent years may have made the medical abortion becomes more available.

Medical abortion has become more common than ever after Roe, according to another new report from Guttmacher. Nearly two-thirds of all abortions performed in the United States in 2023 (an estimated 642,700) were medication abortions, according to the report.

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medical abortionAlso known as medical abortion, it is a method by which a person terminates their pregnancy by taking two pills (mifepristone and misoprostol) instead of undergoing a surgical procedure.

This option has become increasingly common over the two decades it has been available, rising from less than 10% of all abortions in the US in 2001 to 53% in 2020 and 63% in 2023. .

But mifepristone, the drug that was approved for abortive use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2000, faces an unprecedented legal challenge. On March 26, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case that puts access to the drug at stake – even in states where abortion remains legal – and raises questions about the authority that courts have to overturn rulings. from FDA experts about a drug’s effectiveness. security.

Misoprostol can be used alone for a medication abortion and is a safe alternative, but research suggests that using both pills together is the gold standard.

The investigation has found a long time ago that medication abortion is safe and effective, but another recent study found that to be true even when the patient receives the medication via a telehealth appointment.

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“Any return to restrictions on the provision of medication abortions through telemedicine would be detrimental to people who prefer or only have access to abortion through telemedicine,” Guttmacher researchers wrote in the new report. “While the current court case only affects the use of mifepristone (and a misoprostol-only regimen is also a safe and effective method of medication abortion), anyone seeking an abortion should have access to the full range of safe and effective options.” effective.”

Guttmacher’s new reports estimate abortion trends based on responses from a sample of abortion providers in the United States. They probably underestimate the number of abortions in the US, since the data does not include abortions that occur outside the formal health care system or medication abortions that were sent to people in states where abortion is prohibited.

CNN’s Jen Christensen and Tierney Sneed contributed to this report.

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