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Long-Term Decline in US Abortions Reverses, Showing Rising Need for Abortion as Supreme Court Is Poised to Overturn Roe v. WadeJune 15, 2022
The long-term decline in abortions in the United States that started 30 years ago has reversed, according to new data from the Guttmacher Institute--underscoring that the need for abortion care in the United States is growing just as the US Supreme Court appears likely to overturn or gut Roe v. Wade.According to new findings from Guttmacher's latest Abortion Provider Census--the most comprehensive data collection effort on abortion provision in the United States--there were 8% more abortions in 2020 than in 2017.
In 2000, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved mifepristone as a method of abortion. Taken along with misoprostol, the two-drug combination is known as medication abortion or the "abortion pill." New research from the Guttmacher Institute shows that 20 years after its introduction, medication abortion accounted for more than half of all abortions in the United States.Specifically, preliminary data from the Guttmacher Institute's periodic census of all known abortion providers show that in 2020, medication abortion accounted for 54% of US abortions. That year is the first time medication abortion crossed the threshold to become the majority of all abortions and it is a significant jump from 39% in 2017, when Guttmacher last reported these data. This 54% estimate is based on preliminary findings from ongoing data collection; final estimates will be released in late 2022 and the proportion for medication abortion use is not expected to fall below 50%.This new data point powerfully illustrates that medication abortion has gained broad acceptance from both abortion patients and providers. It also underscores how central this method has become to US abortion provision, thanks to its track record of safe and effective use for more than two decades. As medication abortion has become the most common method of abortion, there is still the potential to further increase access—which is why the method has become a main target of anti-abortion politicians and activists seeking to restrict care.
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