Abortions increase in 2023 despite Roe v. Wade reversal

After over two decades of fewer abortions, the U.S. has recently undergone a surge despite states trying to limit access to procedures and medicine.
Boxes of the drug mifepristone.
Posted at 7:55 AM, Mar 19, 2024

According to new data released by the Guttmacher Institute,2023 marked the highest number of abortions in the U.S. in over a decade. 

According to the Guttmacher Institute, abortions topped 1 million for the first time since 2012. In the last few years, the U.S. has reversed a trend of a declining number of abortions. 

Abortions peaked at around 1.6 million annually in the early '90s. By 2017, there were an estimated 885,000 abortions. 

The increase in abortions came as 2023 was the first full year after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Numerous states have placed significant restrictions on accessing abortions in the wake of a 2022 decision that ended the nationwide right to access an abortion before fetal viability, which is generally before 20-24 weeks. 

As many Republican-leaning states looked to limit abortions, the Guttmacher Institute noted that there have been several efforts to make access to abortions easier. For instance, in 2021, the Food and Drug Administration allowed mifepristone to be shipped to patients through the mail. 

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In 2023, 63% of all abortions were by medications,an increase from 53% in 2020. The study also noted that those seeking abortions are also able to seek financial assistance to help cover the cost. The National Network of Abortion Funds said it financially supported 102,855 individuals seeking abortions. 

“Improved access to medication abortion is a positive development, but it is not a panacea,” says Rachel Jones, Guttmacher principal research scientist. “As abortion restrictions proliferate post-Dobbs, medication abortion may be the most viable option — or the only option — for some people, even if they would have preferred in-person procedural care. Thus, it is important to keep in mind that an increase in medication abortion does not necessarily indicate that all people using this method prefer it."

Guttmacher said states without bans saw a 25% increase in abortions between 2020 and 2023. The jump in demand was particularly high in states that border a state where abortion is banned. For instance, New Mexico, which borders Texas, had an over 200% increase in the number of abortions between 2020 and 2023. 

The Guttmacher Institute considers itself a "leading research and policy organization committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights worldwide." 

The new data comes as abortion remains a top political issue heading into the 2024 election. 

In an interview that aired Sunday on Fox News,former President Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, said he is still weighing his position on abortion heading into the 2024 election. He suggested a solution that would "make both sides happy." 

"The Democrats are the radicals on this issue because it's OK to have an abortion in seven, eight, nine months and even after birth," Trump said. 

Trump's comments come one week after Vice President Kamala Harris offered her support for abortion rights at a Minnesota Planned Parenthood clinic. 

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data,in 2021, 93% of abortions were done in the first 13 weeks. The CDC said 0.9% of abortions came after 21 weeks.