This study provides a baseline assessment of abortion incidence and service delivery prior to Roe v. Wade being overturned.
We collected information from all facilities known to have provided abortion services in the United States in 2019 and 2020. We examined abortion incidence by state, region and nationally and combined data on number of abortions with population data to estimate abortion rates. We also examined the number of abortion clinics, trends in medication abortion and service disruptions and changes in abortion protocols that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. We compare these findings to those of our prior Abortion Provider Census, which collected information for 2017.
We documented 930,160 abortions in 2020, an 8% increase from 2017. Between 2017 and 2020, abortion incidence increased in all four regions of the country and in a majority of states. The total number of clinics providing abortion care remained stable nationally but increased in the Midwest and the West and declined in the Northeast and South. There were 492,210 medication abortions in 2020, a 45% increase from 2017. A substantial minority of clinics adjusted protocols in response to COVID, most commonly adopting remote pre- and post-abortion counseling.
This study did not address factors behind the increase in abortion. However, this report demonstrates that the need for abortion care was growing just prior to the overturning Roe v. Wade, and the impact of this decision will be even more far-reaching than previously expected.