The Latest Abortion Statistics And Facts
Learn about the latest U.S. abortion statistics, and read about five real-life abortion stories from moms.
Abortion laws are constantly changing across the country, but even so, many women choose to terminate their pregnancies. In fact, the Guttmacher Institute reports that 18% of pregnancies ended in abortion in 2017. Thats a total of 862,320 abortions. Read on to learn more abortion statistics, with insights on the reasons why women choose to have them.
Difficulties In Access Prior To Decriminalization
By 1982, there were 66,319 legal abortions in Canada. Interpretation of the 1969 law varied widely between doctors and hospitals, leading to uneven access. The standard was the physical or mental well-being of the woman, to be decided by a hospital’s Therapeutic Abortion Committee. However, there was no requirement for a hospital to have a TAC to evaluate women. Only about one-third of hospitals had one. Some committees took a liberal stance and allowed most requests, while others blocked almost all requests. Access to legal abortions was easy in major metropolitan areas, but much harder outside large cities. In the province of Prince Edward Island, the lone Therapeutic Abortion Committee shut down, and there were no legal abortions in the province after 1982. The Therapeutic Abortion Committees often took days or weeks to make their decisions, pushing a pregnancy further along than it would have been otherwise. The women were not seen by the committee, and had no right to appeal a decision. Advocates for abortion rights believed that the choice should be made by the woman, rather than a panel of doctors.
Are You Younger Than 18
Even if you have not yet turned 18, whether or not to have an abortion is completely up to you. The staff at the abortion clinic have an oath of confidentiality and cannot notify anyone of your appointments. Nevertheless, they may suggest that you tell one of the adults with whom you are living that you are planning to have an abortion. Knowing that someone at home can provide support both before and after the abortion may make things easier for you.
If you don’t feel comfortable telling anyone with whom you are living, consider talking to another adult whom you trust a relative, close friend, counsellor, school nurse, etc. The closer you are to turning 18, the less the adults who are responsible for you are entitled to know about your appointments at the clinic.
If telling someone at home is out of the question , the clinic staff may talk to another adult instead. A counsellor or other source of support may be able to help you in such situations.
If the clinic staff are planning to contact an adult who is responsible for you, you will always be informed first.
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How Common Are Abortions Later In Pregnancy
Abortions occurring at or after 21 weeks gestation are rare. According to the CDCs Abortion Surveillance Data, the vast majority of abortions occur at or before 13 weeks gestation, while 7.7% occur from weeks 14 to 20 gestation, and just 1.2% of abortions are performed at or after 21 weeks . This amounts to approximately 5,200 abortions per year occurring at or after 21 weeks, however this is an underestimate as only 33 reporting areas report abortions to the CDC by gestational age. The percentage of abortions occurring at or before 13 weeks gestation has remained stable over the last few decades at 91-92%, however within this timeframe, more abortions are occurring earlier in pregnancy, at or before 8 weeks. This is likely in part due to the greater availability of medication abortions over the last two decades.
Figure 1: The Vast Majority of Abortions Occur Early in Pregnancy
The CDC does not elaborate on the breakdown by gestational age for abortions occurring past 21 weeks, but it is likely that the vast majority occur soon after 21 weeks rather than in the later in the pregnancy. While very limited data exists on this issue, a study from 1992 estimated 0.02% of all abortions occurred after 26 weeks gestation . This may overestimate current day numbers, given the abortion rate is currently at a historic low, and restrictions on abortions later in pregnancy have increased.
What If You Are Not The Person Making The Decision
The Abortion Act states that the person carrying the baby makes the final decision about whether or not to have an abortion. You might understandably feel frustrated or upset if you are another person who is involved but cannot participate in the decision. You may have the same feelings as the person carrying the baby. You also have the right to talk about your feelings concerning a possible abortion. Find out more in the section entitled “Counselling before and after an abortion.”
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Will An Abortion Affect My Health
Abortion is safe. Unless theres a rare and serious complication thats not treated, theres no risk to your ability to have children in the future or to your overall health. Having an abortion doesnt increase your risk for breast cancer, and it doesnt cause depression or mental health issues. Abortions dont cause infertility either. In fact, its possible to get pregnant quickly after you have an abortion. So its a good idea to talk to your nurse or doctor about a birth control plan for after your abortion.
There are many myths out there about abortion. The nurses and doctors at Planned Parenthood can give you accurate information about any concerns you have.
Can Abortions Increase The Risk Of Breast Cancer
No, having an abortion will not increase your risk of developing breast cancer. The World Health Organization has published data showing there is no link between abortions and breast cancer, and no increased risk. See page 49 of this study about safe abortions from the World Health Organization: Technical and Policy Guidance for Health Systems.
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Earliest Date You Can Have An Abortion
Abortions can be carried out as soon as you find out that you are pregnant. In most cases, this will be after your first missed period at 4 weeks. You can make your first appointment at the abortion clinic before you miss a period if you already know that youre pregnant. However, many women wait a little longer before taking a pregnancy test or visiting the clinic. About 80% will speak to a doctor within the first 10 weeks of the pregnancy.
Repeat Abortion Repeat Unintended Pregnancy Repeated And Misguided Government Policies
About half of all U.S. women having an abortion have had one previously. This factnot new, but dramatically underscored in a recent report from the Guttmacher Institute on the characteristics of women having repeat abortionsmay surprise and concern some policymakers, even prochoice ones. However, policymakers should be more disturbed by the underlying fact that the unintended pregnancy rate in the United States is so high, and that so many women experience repeat unintended pregnancies. Some of these pregnancies end in abortion and some end in unintended births. Indeed, it is not uncommon for a woman to experience both of these outcomes, as well as one or more planned births, during her lifetime.
Reducing repeat abortion must start with reducing repeat unintended pregnancy, which goes back to the basic challenge of helping women prevent unintended pregnancies in the first place. In that regard, the almost 7,500 family planning clinics across the country certainly are doing their share, given that unintended pregnancy prevention is their primary mission. Beyond that, both abortion providers and providers of services to women giving birth also contribute, since contraceptive counseling and the provision of a birth control method upon request are standard components of high-quality postabortion and postpartum care.
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How Far Along Can You Be To Get An Abortion
How late you can get an abortion depends on the laws in your state and which doctors office or health center you go to.
It can be harder to find a nurse or doctor who will give you an abortion after your 12th week of pregnancy, so its best to try to have your abortion as soon as possible. You can get an abortion later than 24 weeks only in rare cases for medical reasons. The staff at your nearest Planned Parenthood health center can go over all your options with you.
On Sept. 1, 2021, a new, extreme law went into effect in the state of Texas that bans abortion around 6 weeks of pregnancy before many people even know they’re pregnant. Read more about the Texas Abortion Ban.
If youre in Texas and you need an abortion, please seek care as soon as possible. Locate an abortion provider at abortionfinder.org or call 1-800-230-PLAN.
When Can I Get Pregnant After An Abortion
Your fertility will return to normal right away after an abortion. You could get pregnant again within just a few weeks, so youll need to use contraception. Your menstrual cycle will usually start immediately, although there may be a slight delay if you had a later abortion as it can take a few weeks for your hormones to return to normal. Most women will ovulate about 14 days after an abortion. However, it could happen even sooner if you have a short or irregular cycle, so its important to use protection right away.
If youre visiting the 132 Healthwise clinic in London to discuss abortion then its a good idea to ask the doctor for contraception advice too. You can get help choosing the right type of contraception to prevent any more unplanned pregnancies. The doctor can also fit you with a hormonal or copper coil at the same time as the abortion. A coil can provide long-lasting and reliable protection, so it can be a good choice if other kinds of contraception have let you down.
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Why Do People Have Abortions Later In Pregnancy
Non-Medical Reasons: Individuals seek abortions later in pregnancy for a number of reasons. As part of the Turnaway study out of the University of California San Francisco, from 2008-2010 over 440 women were asked about why they experienced delays in obtaining abortion care, if any . Almost half of individuals who obtained an abortion after 20 weeks did not suspect they were pregnant until later in pregnancy, and other barriers to care included lack of information about where to access an abortion, transportation difficulties, lack of insurance coverage and inability to pay for the procedure. This is unsurprising, given abortions can be cost-prohibitive for many in a study from 2011-2012, the median cost of a surgical abortion at 10 weeks was $495, jumping to $1,350 at 20 weeks excluding the cost of travel and lost wages. Yet the Federal Reserve Board found 40% of U.S. adults do not have enough in savings to pay for a $400 emergency expense, meaning many individuals may need to delay having an abortion until they can raise the necessary funds.
Figure 2: Many Factors Contribute to Delays in Obtaining Abortion Care
Can Having An Abortion Affect My Fertility
Having an abortion will not usually affect your chances of becoming pregnant and having normal pregnancies in the future.
But there’s a very small risk to your fertility and future pregnancies if you develop a womb infection during the procedure that’s not treated promptly.
The infection could spread to your fallopian tubes and ovaries, known as pelvic inflammatory disease .
But most infections are treated before they reach this stage, and you’ll often be given antibiotics before an abortion to reduce the risk of infection.
Get medical advice as soon as possible if you experience any signs of infection after an abortion, such as:
- severe pain
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Surgical Method In The Second Trimester
- Dilation and evacuation is typically done when an abortion occurs in the second 12 weeks of pregnancy. It usually includes a combination of vacuum aspiration, dilation and curettage , and the use of surgical instruments to clear the uterus of fetal and placental tissue.
A D& E is most commonly used during the second trimester because it has a lower complication risk than induction abortion.
Contraception After An Abortion
Having an abortion will end your current pregnancy. If youre sexually active and dont desire another pregnancy, you should talk with your doctor about contraception options.
This is important to do before you begin having sex after the abortion. There are many options available, many of which dont require a daily pill.
Talk with your doctor to see which method would be best for you and how soon you can start it after the abortion.
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How Soon After Abortion Can You Get Pregnant
An abortion will restart your menstrual cycle. Ovulation, when an egg is released from the ovary, typically happens around day 14 of a 28-day menstrual cycle. This means youll likely ovulate just a couple weeks after an abortion.
In other words, its physically possible to get pregnant again if you have unprotected sex just a couple weeks after the procedure, even if you havent had a period yet.
However, not everyone has a 28-day cycle, so the exact timing can vary. Some women have naturally shorter menstrual cycles. This means they may begin ovulating just eight days after the procedure and can get pregnant even sooner.
How much time elapses before you ovulate also depends on how far along your pregnancy was before the abortion. Pregnancy hormones can linger in your body for a few weeks after the procedure. This will delay ovulation and menstruation.
Symptoms of pregnancy following an abortion will be similar to symptoms of any pregnancy. They include:
- tender breasts
- sensitivity to smells or tastes
- nausea or vomiting
Can Abortions Harm My Mental Health
There is no evidence that abortions cause depression. Most women do not regret their decisions. They move on with their lives and are grateful they were able to access care.
Immediately after abortions, people may experience a range of emotions including sadness, relief, or regret, but studies show that the most common feeling is relief.
The Turnaway Study a landmark study by the University of California found that five years after having an abortion, more than 95% of women said it was the right decision for them.
However, about 70% said they felt theyd be stigmatized by their communities if people knew they had experienced abortions.
The study also shows that people who are denied wanted abortions suffer many problems, including more anxiety, lower self-esteem, and less life satisfaction than women who are able to get abortions.
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The Abortion Pill From 10 Weeks To 24 Weeks
This method can be used at BPAS from 10 weeks, up to 23 weeks and 5 days of pregnancy.
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What is the abortion pill?
The abortion pill is two medicines. Mifepristone is the first medicine which ends the pregnancy. It blocks the hormone progesterone, making the lining of the uterus break down so the pregnancy cannot continue. The second medicine, misoprostol, makes the womb contract causing cramping, bleeding and loss of the pregnancy like a miscarriage
You will attend the clinic to be given a tablet of mifepristone to swallow. Mifepristone makes the uterus more sensitive to a medication called misoprostol, which is used to induce contractions .
You will go home and return to a clinic for the rest of your treatment on a different day. Contact us if you vomit within 1 hour of taking the pill.
If you are 22 weeks pregnant or more, it is necessary to administer an injection into your abdomen to stop the fetal heartbeat before the abortion takes place. This is called feticide and more detail can be found here. If you are rhesus-negative you will also have an anti-D injection.
You may see large blood clots or the fetus at the time of the abortion. The nurse or midwife will try to make sure that you see very little, but sometimes this is not possible as events can be rapid.
- feel dizzy
- feel nauseous or have to vomit
- have a headache
- have diarrhoea
- have temporary flushes or sweats
What To Expect If You Decide To Have An Abortion
Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy through a surgical procedure or the use of drugs. Over 90 percent of the abortions done in Canada happen in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Under some circumstances, abortion can be done up to 23 weeks, but the procedure is safer and simpler done early.
Abortions are very safe. Less than one percent have any complications. Abortions can be done in birth control clinics, hospitals or free standing abortion clinics. Abortion is legal in Canada and is regulated in the same way as all other medical procedures.
If you are pregnant and you want to discuss having an abortion, talk to your family doctor or the staff at your local birth control clinic. If they do not perform abortions, they can refer you to a hospital or clinic that does. Most places that do abortions can also refer you to counselling. Visit www.prochoice.org for a list of abortion providers in Canada and the United States.
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