One in FIVE pregnancies was aborted in 2020 with 930,160 fetuses terminated, new research shows


A fifth of all pregnancies were aborted in 2020, newly-released figures show, with 930,160 terminations taking place over the course of that year.

The newly-released statistics from progressive reproductive health think-tank the Guttmacher Institute showed that the number of terminations rocketed by eight per cent between 2017 and 2020. 

Guttmacher’s research shows that 862,320 terminations were carried out across the US in 2017, and a further 916,460 in 2019. 

Those figures reversed a 30 year downward trend in termination numbers, with the rise between 2017 and 2020 coming as birth rates decreased by six per cent over the same period.  

An exact breakdown on how advanced each of the terminated pregnancies was has not been released.

But Guttmacher researchers did determine that 54 per cent of all terminations which took place in 2020 were the result of the so-called ‘abortion pill.’

It sees women take two doses of a drug which induces miscarriage during the first 10 weeks of a pregnancy. 

This chart from the Guttmacher Institute shows how a 30 year decline in the number of abortions being carried out has been reversed over the last three years

This chart from the Guttmacher Institute shows how a 30 year decline in the number of abortions being carried out has been reversed over the last three years 

This map shows which states have already enacted full or partial bans, which are on the verge of passing laws, and which continue to impose no restrictions on terminations

This map shows which states have already enacted full or partial bans, which are on the verge of passing laws, and which continue to impose no restrictions on terminations 

The South – including many of the GOP-led states now enacting total or partial bans – saw the highest number of terminations.

In 2017, they recorded 295,310 abortions, with 308,290 in 2019 and 320,410 in 2020. 

Texas saw 55,440 abortions in 2018, 59,290 in 2019 and 58,030 in 2020. Its so-called Heartbeat Law, which effectively bans abortion after six weeks, is regarded as the prototype trailblazer for tough new pro-life measures being enacted across the US. 

The Lone Star State’s two per cent decease between 2019 and 2020 may have been caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with New York also witnessing a six per cent decrease over the same period.

One in ten Empire State abortion providers shuttered at the start of the pandemic, with the next tranche of research from Guttmacher set to highlight further how COVID closures may have impacted abortion rates in 2021. 

Northeastern states recorded a total of 228,100 abortions in 2020, the west saw 235,140 terminations, with 146,550 taking place in the Midwest during the same year.

Pro-life and pro-choice protesters are pictured outside the Supreme Court in Washington DC on June 13, after a leaked draft opinion indicated the conservative-majority court's plans to end Roe v Wade, which guarantees American women the right to an abortion

Pro-life and pro-choice protesters are pictured outside the Supreme Court in Washington DC on June 13, after a leaked draft opinion indicated the conservative-majority court’s plans to end Roe v Wade, which guarantees American women the right to an abortion 

Republican appointed-Justices Clarence Thomas (second from bottom left), Neil Gorsuch (second from right top row) Brett Kavanaugh (top left) and Amy Coney Barrett (top right) all voted to strike down Roe with Samuel Alito (bottom left)

Republican appointed-Justices Clarence Thomas (second from bottom left), Neil Gorsuch (second from right top row) Brett Kavanaugh (top left) and Amy Coney Barrett (top right) all voted to strike down Roe with Samuel Alito (bottom left)

Guttmacher said there were ‘no clear patterns’ to explain why certain states saw the number of terminations increase, while others witnessed a decrease. 

Some, including Illinois, began covering abortions on Medicaid. Terminations there rose from 42,080 in 2017 to 52,220 in 2019 and 52,780 in 2020.   

The statistics were released almost two months after a leaked Supreme Court draft judgement indicated plans to scrap the 1973 Roe v Wade law.

It guarantees American women the right to an abortion, with multiple states now poised to impose an outright ban on terminations as the conservative majority court prepares to publish its completed opinion. 

The number of abortions carried out in 1973 – the first year the procedure became legal – sat at around 750,000.

That number rose to more than one million by the late 70s, and stayed there throughout the 1980s, reaching an all-time high of more than 1.5 million abortions in 1990.

The figure dropped below one million for the first time in 2011, and now faces plummeting further as tough new laws come into place across conservative states. 

The beginning of the original leaked draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito

The beginning of the original leaked draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito

Declines in the number of abortions carried out have been credited to contraception becoming both easier to obtain, and more effective at preventing pregnancy. 

Abortion has become an increasingly fraught political issue in recent election cycles.

Former President Donald Trump went from being ardently pro-choice to pro-life after taking office in 2016. 

His appointment of three conservative Supreme Court justices is widely-credited with the leaked draft opinion now set to end Roe v Wade.

Multiple other GOP governors have enacted their own bans aimed at eliminating terminations, and tout it as a priority in their election material.

Governors in blue states where there’s no plans to restrict abortion laws have offered to help transport pregnant women there for terminations.

Advances in medical technology since Roe was published have further complicated the issue. Roe allows women to have abortions up until the point a fetus can survive outside the womb.

That is currently defined as between 23 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.  

But last year, an Alabama baby born at just 21 weeks went on to survive thanks to modern medicine that would not have been available in 1973, sparking further discussion about abortion time limits. 

Florida has enacted a ban on abortions after 15 weeks which its Governor Ron DeSantis claims is a common-sense compromise to the issue.  



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