CDC report: Unmarried women and women in their 20s have most abortions

Newly released data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for 2021 reveals that unmarried women, those in their 20s, and women who have experienced a previous ‘live birth’ but never had a prior abortion, were among those who obtained the majority of abortions.

In their report dated November 24, 2023, the CDC recorded 625,978 total abortions reported nationally from 48 reporting areas. CDC abortion data is voluntarily gathered from states that require reporting. The most current abortion report published by the CDC is for 2021, but not all states collect data on the characteristics of abortion clients.

While much of this report is based on 2021 data from the CDC, Live Action News included older characteristic data published by the Guttmacher Institute, which has not updated this specific data since 2014.

The data is summarized below: *Guttmacher (2014) and the ^CDC (2021)

  • Most are unmarried women: (45.9%*/87.3%^)
  • Most are women in their 20’s: (60%*/57%^)
  • Most abortion clients have had a previous live birth: (59%*/60.7%^)
  • Most never had a previous abortion: (57.3%^)
  • Teens obtained greater percentage of abortions at or after 14 weeks: (30%^)
  • Most had a low income: (75%*)
  • Most had at least a high school education: (91%*)
  • Most paid for their abortions out-of-pocket (53%*)

Unmarried women have most abortions 

According to the CDC, 462,355 abortions were recorded among 37 reporting areas by marital status in 2021, revealing that the majority of abortions are, consistent with past reporting, still committed on unmarried women.

In 2021, just 12.7% of women who obtained an abortion were married, while 87.3% were unmarried. And while married women saw an abortion ratio of 41 abortions per 1,000 live births, single unmarried women committed 404 abortions per 1,000 live births, the CDC report stated.

Older abortion data compiled by Guttmacher* for 2014 found that never-married women accounted for the largest proportion of abortions (45.9%) and had an abortion rate of 16.9 per 1000.

“Women cohabiting with but not married to their partners had the highest abortion rate: 31.0 per 1000. Between 2008 and 2014, declines in abortion were most pronounced for cohabitating women (39%) and lowest for married women (21%), although the latter group had a low abortion rate in both periods,” Guttmacher* previously noted.

The data suggests that the sanctity of marriage is a protectant to both the pregnant mother and her preborn baby. It indicates that when men are supportive of the women whom they impregnate, the outcome can have life-saving effects on the unborn child. And, when society promotes abortion as a safety net, which frees men of all their responsibility, babies are left vulnerable to the violence of the predatory abortion industry.

Women in 20s comprised over half of abortions 

In the CDC data, 612,407 abortions were reported among 48 reporting areas by known age group in 2021, revealing that women in their 20s accounted for the majority of abortions (more than half of abortions (57.0%). Likewise, women in their 30’s accounted for nearly 31% of abortions.

Women aged 20-24 and 25-29 also saw the highest abortion rates (19.7 and 19.4 per 1,000 women aged 20–24 and 25–29 years, respectively), the report claimed.

Those under 15 years of age and those at or over age 40 accounted for the lowest percentage of abortions (0.2% and 3.6%, respectively) and had the lowest abortion rates (0.4 and 2.5 abortions per 1,000 women aged <15 and ≥40 years, respectively). However, abortion ratios were highest among adolescents at or under the age of 19. Girls under age 15 had 805 abortions per 1,000 live births and there were 381 abortions per 1,000 live births among those aged 15–19 years.

Abortion reported by age group shows majority of abortions obtained by women in their 20's (2021/CDC )

Abortion reported by age group shows majority of abortions obtained by women in their 20’s (2021/CDC )

CDC data seems to line up with previous abortion data from the Guttmacher Institute* which reported that in 2014, more than half of all U.S. abortion patients — 60% — were in their 20s, while 25% were in their 30s.

Most abortions obtained by mother with a previous live birth

In 2021, 507,685 abortions were recorded from 42 reporting areas for women who had previous live births.

Women who had a previous live birth (60.7%) outpaced women who had never experienced a live birth (39.3%). Again, findings from the CDC resembled previously reported Guttmacher* data for 2014, which indicated that 59% of women obtaining abortions had previously had a live birth.

But while this number suggests that a majority of those who have abortions are already mothers, a 2021 study which reviewed a much larger sample size of low-income women, concluded that it wasn’t common for mothers with living children to abort subsequent children. That study, previously documented by Live Action News, analyzed a population size approximately 583 times larger (4,884,101) than the sample used in 2014 by Guttmacher* (8,380) and 9 times larger than what was reported by CDC in 2021 (507,685).

The authors then concluded, “Abortion among low-income women with children is exceedingly uncommon, if not rare. The period prevalence of mothers without abortion is 13 times that of mothers with abortion.”

Read more about the study here.

Most abortion clients had no prior abortions

In 2021, 508,578 abortions were recorded from 42 reporting areas for women who had previous induced abortions.

The majority of abortions in this category were from women who had no prior abortion, nearly 60% of women (57.3%) reported never having had a previous abortion in 2021, while 42.7% previously had at least one abortion.

A 2020 study published in the Journal of Health Services Research and Managerial Epidemiology found that aborting a first child makes a woman more likely to abort in future pregnancies.

Percent of women with previous live birth or induced abortion CDC 2021

Percent of women with previous live birth or induced abortion CDC 2021

Black women have a disproportionately larger abortion percentage, rate, and ratio

In 2021, 394,757 abortions from 33 reporting areas were recorded for race and ethnicity. The data revealed that most abortions are committed on communities of color, including Black and Hispanic women.

In 2021, CDC reported that “non-Hispanic White (White) women and non-Hispanic Black (Black) women accounted for the highest percentages of all abortions (30.2% and 41.5%, respectively), and Hispanic women and non-Hispanic women in the other race category accounted for lower percentages (21.8% and 6.5%, respectively),” the CDC wrote.

In other words, while white Americans made up 58.2% of people living in the United States in 2021, they accounted for 30.2% of abortions in 2021. Likewise, while Black Americans made up 11.6% of people living in the United States in 2021, they accounted for a disproportionately higher percentage of abortions (41.5%) in 2021. In addition, while Hispanic Americans made up 19% of people living in the United States in 2021, they also accounted for a higher percentage (21.8%) of abortions in 2021.

Tragically, Black women saw the highest rate and ratio of abortions. According to the CDC, “White women had the lowest abortion rate (6.4 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years) and ratio (116 abortions per 1,000 live births), and Black women had the highest abortion rate (28.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years) and ratio (498 abortions per 1,000 live births).”

The data revealed that:

  • The Black abortion rate was nearly 5 times higher than the white abortion rate (28.6 v 6.4) and over twice as high as the Hispanic abortion rate (28.6 v 12.3). The Black abortion ratio was over 4 times higher than the white abortion ratio (498 v. 116) and 3.5 times higher than the Hispanic abortion ratio (498 v. 186).
  • The Hispanic abortion rate was nearly twice as high as the white abortion rate (12.3 v. 6.4) and the Hispanic abortion ratio was over 1.5 times higher than the white abortion ratio (186 v. 116).

Abortion is tethered to eugenics, and communities of color continue to be targeted for eugenic abortions. A more detailed breakdown of the data on abortions by race/ethnicity can be found at Live Action News here.

White or Asian women more likely to use chemical abortion, especially at early gestations

A cross-sectional survey of people obtaining abortions at a sample of 56 U.S. facilities between June 2021 and July 2022, published at the pro-abortion journal Contraception and analyzed by Guttmacher, found that the majority of chemical abortions were obtained by Asian (69%) or White (65%) clients who had no prior abortions (62%) with incomes at or above 100% the federal poverty level (60%–61%).

Black women obtained the lowest amount (48%) of chemical abortions, that study concluded.

However, the CDC’s latest report revealed that out of the 31 reporting areas which reported by method type and race/ethnicity in 2021, Black women obtained a larger total of so-called “medication” abortion overall.

However, when broken down by gestational weeks, white and Hispanic women outpaced Black women in very early (at or less than six weeks) chemical abortions, while Black women had slightly higher percentages of abortion pill use between 7 and 13 weeks. At week 14 or higher — past approved limits on the abortion pill mifepristone by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — the usage was fairly similar in all categories.

Medication abortion by race ethnicity and gestation (CDC 2021)

Abortion pill (“medication abortion”) use by race ethnicity and gestation (CDC 2021)

Majority of later abortions obtained by teens

Overall, the CDC recorded 31,106 abortions committed at or after the 14th week of pregnancy, including 4,070 abortions committed at or past the 21st week of pregnancy.

The report also found that in 2021, teens obtained the greater percentage of abortions at or after 14 weeks — approximately 30% of those recorded, compared to other age groups.

Later abortions, CDC 2021

Later abortions, CDC 2021

Additionally, Guttmacher Institute abortion data* from as far back as 2014 has indicated that the majority of abortions were committed on clients who:

  • Had a low income.
  • Had at least a high school education.
  • Had some religious affiliation.
  • Paid for their abortions out-of-pocket.

*Note categories on abortion characteristics from the Guttmacher Institute are outdated by years. Live Action News will update these categories as soon as more current information is published.

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