Changes in Abortion Rates Between 2000 and 2008 and Lifetime Incidence of Abortion

Jones, Rachel K. PhD; Kavanaugh, Megan L. DrPH

doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e31821c405e
Original Research

OBJECTIVE: To estimate abortion rates among subpopulations of women in 2008, assess changes in subpopulation abortion rates since 2000, and estimate the lifetime incidence of abortion.

METHODS: We combined secondary data from several sources, including the 2008 Abortion Patient Survey, the Current Population Surveys for 2008 and 2009, and the 2006–2008 National Survey of Family Growth, to estimate abortion rates by subgroup and lifetime incidence of abortion for U.S. women of reproductive age.

RESULTS: The abortion rate declined 8.0% between 2000 and 2008, from 21.3 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 to 19.6 per 1,000. Decreases in abortion were experienced by most subgroups of women. One notable exception was poor women; this group accounted for 42.4% of abortions in 2008, and their abortion rate increased 17.5% between 2000 and 2008 from 44.4 to 52.2 abortions per 1,000. In addition to poor women, abortion rates were highest for women who were cohabiting (52.0 per 1,000), aged 20–24 (39.9 per 1,000), or non-Hispanic African American (40.2 per 1,000). If the 2008 abortion rate prevails, 30.0% of women will have an abortion by age 45.

CONCLUSION: Abortion is becoming increasingly concentrated among poor women, and restrictions on abortion disproportionately affect this population.


Although the abortion rate for all women declined by 8% between 2000 and 2008, it increased 18% for poor women.

From the Guttmacher Institute, Research Division, New York, New York.

Funded by a grant from an anonymous donor. Grant monies were used to conduct the Abortion Provider Census that resulted in the number of abortions for 2008; support the analysis, interpretation, and summary of the (secondary) data conducted for this article; and manage the data collection process.

The authors thank Guttmacher colleagues Susheela Singh, Heather Boonstra, Lawrence Finer, and Kathryn Kost for reviewing drafts of the article.

The conclusions and opinions expressed in the manuscript are those of the authors.

Corresponding author: Rachel K. Jones, Senior Research Associate, Guttmacher Institute, 125 Maiden Lane, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10038; e-mail:

Financial Disclosure The authors did not report any potential conflicts of interest.

© 2011 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists