U.S. abortions top the 1M mark in 2023 for first time in over decade


LOUISVILLE, Ky.  (KT) – The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion research and policy organization, released new data Tuesday demonstrating a spike in overall abortions provided nationwide and a continuing upward trend in the use of medication to terminate pregnancies last year.

An estimated 1,026,690 abortions were provided within the formal healthcare system (abortion clinics, physicians' offices and telehealth providers) nationwide in 2023. That's according to new findings from Guttmacher's Monthly Abortion Provision Study.

The staggering figure is a 10% increase from 2020, representing a rate of 15.7 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age. It is the highest number and rate recorded in the United States in over a decade but does not account for self-managed abortions. "These annual estimates are almost certainly an undercount," Guttmacher noted in the policy analysis released with Tuesday's data.

Abortions last topped 1 million in 2012 and peaked under Roe v. Wade in 1990 at 1.6 million. After nearly three decades of decline, the number of abortions began climbing again in 2019 and 2020; the latter marked an 8% increase from the near-four-decade low in 2017.

There were approximately 642,700 medication abortions nationwide in 2023, accounting for 63% of abortions performed within the formal healthcare system. Guttmacher's Monthly Abortion Provision Study noted that figure is a 10% increase from 2020, when abortions accounted for 53% of all abortions performed in the U.S.

A two-drug regimen (mifepristone and misoprostol) is the most common form of medication abortion provided nationwide.

On Tuesday, March 26, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA, a case that challenges the widespread use of mifepristone, which was first approved by the FDA in 2000. The high court could reinstate an earlier requirement for the drug to be provided in person; the FDA loosened REMS procedures around mifepristone in December 2021 and January 2023, allowing providers to send the drug to women through the mail and adding a pharmacy certification process that would allow retail pharmacies to dispense mifepristone directly to patients with a certified prescription.

Among 14 states that restricted access to abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe in June 2022, Kentucky saw only 16 abortions in 2023. Twelve of those abortions were performed using medication. Under state law, abortions are permitted where the life and health of the mother is at risk.