abortion & family planning


In 1973, the Supreme Court declared in Roe v. Wade that a woman had the right to end her pregnancy within three months of conception. Since then, few issues in American politics have divided the country or generated such passion. The debate is no longer a simple "pro-choice vs. pro-life" option (until Roe v. Wade falls, that discussion is off the table); the new questions are whether to allow partial birth (late term) abortions, whether to require parent notification and whether to mandate waiting periods when women seek an abortion.


Contraception used by women ages 15-44 (Census):

  • Sterility: 30% (includes male sterility);
  • Pill: 17%;
  • Condoms: 13%;
  • Other contraception: 9%;
  • No contraception: 22% (10% have never had intercourse);
  • Pregnant/postpartum/trying to get pregnant: 9%.



Percentage of pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) that ended in abortion in 2002:

Number of abortions per 1,000 women 15-44 (AGI):

  • 1973: 16.3

  • 1980: 29.3

  • 1992: 25.7

  • 2002: 20.9

Compared to other nations:

Abortions per 1,000 women in 2002 AGI:

  • US: 20.9

  • Australia: 22.2

  • Sweden: 18.7

  • Canada: 16.4

  • England and Wales: 15.6

  • Germany: 7.6

  • Holland: 6.5

When women have abortions ( AGI):

  • Under 9 weeks: 59.1%

  • 9-10 weeks: 19.0%

  • 11-12 weeks: 10.0%

  • 13-15 weeks: 6.2%

  • 16-20 weeks: 4.3%

  • 21 or more weeks: 1.4%

Abortion as Birth Control

Percentage of women who have abortions that have had at least one previous abortion AGI:

  • 48%

Percentage of women having abortions that used a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant:

Percentage of women having abortions that have never used contraceptives:

Public Funding for Abortions

Congress does not allow Medicaid to pay for abortions except in cases were the woman's life is in danger or the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest.

Number of states that use public funds to pay for abortions for poor women:

Percentage of abortions paid for with public funds:

  • 14% (almost exclusively state money) AGI

Reasons women give for having an abortion

According to a study by The Allan Guttmacher Institute, a woman gives an average of 3.7 reasons for having an abortion. Here are the most common (AGI)...

  • Inadequate finances: 21%
  • Not ready for responsibility: 21%
  • Women's life would be changed too much: 16%
  • Problems with relationship/unmarried: 12%
  • Too young/not mature enough: 11%
  • Children are grown/woman has all she wants: 8%
  • Fetus has possible health problem: 3%
  • Woman has health problem: 3%
  • Pregnancy caused by rape, incest: 1%
  • Other: 4%

Reasons for late term abortions (AGI):

  • Woman did not realize she was pregnant: 71%
  • Difficulty making arrangements for abortion: 48%
  • Afraid to tell parents or partner: 33%
  • Needed time to make decision: 24%
  • Hoped relationship would change: 8%
  • Pressure not to have abortion: 8%
  • Something changed during pregnancy: 6%
  • Didn't know timing was important: 6%
  • Didn't know she could get an abortion: 5%
  • Fetal abnormality diagnosed late: 2%
  • Other: 11%


  • Average cost for an early abortion at a clinic: $350 NAF
  • Average cost for an early abortion at a doctor's office: $500 NAF
  • Average cost for an abortion after the 16th week at a clinic: $650 NAF
  • Average cost for an abortion after the 16th week at a doctor's office: $700 NAF


Where the facts are from:

Other sources

Facts pulled together by Adam Gleicher. Summer 2005.


Did we miss something, let some slant slip in, lose a link - or do you just have something to say? Drop a line below! In the spirit of open dialogue, cJ asks you keep it civil, keep it real and keep it focused on the message, not the messenger. See our policy page for more on what that all means.

You're absolutely right

You're absolutely right about the question no longer being pro life vs pro choice.  Now the legal battles are very much about the details, not the big picture issues.  Abortion state laws vary from place to place, and often times people see state abortion law as a way of challenging the limits of federal law.  However, it's not very often that a law seemingly in conflict with federal law is held up by the federal court.  Until we have ground breaking legislation at the federal level, the state law game will continue to be played.

abortion state laws (not verified) | October 13, 2008 - 7:45pm


Killing children is never a just act.  Whenever an injustice occurs, people must respond on behalf of those being unjustly treated.  Vote pro-life, but remember to support those young mothers and fathers facing the challenges of unwanted pregnancy.

dujardin | January 15, 2008 - 8:41pm

I believe that this issue

I believe that this issue neither morally wrong, or right. There is alot of controversy when it comes to abortion. The fetus' are expected to be part of a cure that can help contribute to getting rid of cancer. This could be great advancement for us, but it would mean killing unborn children. Also they're are rape victims and those who get pregnant "mistakenly". So for this, there isn't really a solid answer to this issue, we can only voice our opinions whether we are for it or not.  

tsmallwood1130 | January 8, 2008 - 5:40pm