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US abortion rate up for the first time in 30 years: report

June 15, 2022

A study by an abortion rights group found that 1 in 5 pregnancies in the US ended in abortion in 2020. The news comes as the US Supreme Court looks likely to strike down Roe v. Wade.

USA Oklahoma | Abtreibung
Image: Evelyn Hockstein/REUTERS

The number of abortions performed in the United States rose 8% in the three years ending in 2020, a new study published late on Tuesday has found. The findings show a reversal of a 30-year long downward trend.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research group, there were 930,160 abortions in the United States in 2020, up from 862,320 in 2017. This means that slightly more than one in five pregnancies - or 20.6% - ended in abortion in 2020, up from 18.4% in 2017.

"In the 20-something years I've been doing research on abortion at Guttmacher, this is the first time we've had an increase in abortion over two years," said study co-author Rachel Jones.

Wide variations by state

The results varied widely by state, however. For example, abortions in Missouri dropped by 96%, from 4,710 in 2017 to 170 in 2020, as all but one provider left the state. Neighboring Illinois showed a 25% increase in abortions, indicating that women from Missouri may have sought abortions there.

The report came on the heels of a leaked opinion from the US Supreme Court that indicated the conservative-leaning court may be ready to strike down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 court case that legalized abortion nationwide.

Abortion is one of the most contentious issues in US politics. Even before the leak from the Supreme Court, several states, such as Oklahoma and Texas, have enacted such strict abortion regulations that it makes it nearly impossible to procure one in those states.

Despite the controversy amongst lawmakers, most US residents are in favor of legalized abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy. According to a survey by the Pew research institute published on Monday, 61% of the country is in favor of legal pregnancy termination in "all or most cases." 

es/jcg (AP, Reuters)

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