Unintended Pregnancy Varies Widely By State

Rates Are Higher in the South and Southwest and in States with Large Urban Populations

In 2008, more than half of all pregnancies were unintended in 31 states; in the remainder of states, a minimum of 37% of pregnancies were unintended, according to "Unintended Pregnancy Rates at the State Level: Estimates for 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008" by Kathryn Kost. In most states, unintended pregnancy rates were within the range of 40 to 65 per 1,000 women aged 15–44; the state with the highest rate was Delaware (70 per 1,000) and the state with the lowest rate was New Hampshire (31 per 1,000). Unintended pregnancy rates were generally higher in the South and Southwest, and in states with large urban populations.

"We know that nationally, about half of pregnancies are unintended," says Guttmacher Director of Domestic Research Lawrence Finer. "This report shows that there is wide variation across states. Rates are twice as high in some southern states compared with those in some northeastern states—a variation that likely reflects differences in demographics and socioeconomic conditions across states."

The report also shows that more unintended pregnancies were mistimed (the woman wanted to have a child sometime, but not now) than were unwanted (the woman did not ever want to have a child or another child); between one-quarter and one-third of unintended pregnancies were unwanted in each state. Additionally, in 38 states, more than half of unintended pregnancies resulted in a birth.

Other Guttmacher research has found that each year, publicly funded family planning services prevent more than 2.2 million unintended pregnancies, as well as the unintended births and abortions that would have resulted from those pregnancies. Additionally, related research has shown that unintended pregnancy costs taxpayers in each state from $21 million to $1.3 billion in a single year. Without publicly funded services, state unintended pregnancy rates and the costs associated with them would be even higher.

"Investments in publicly funded family planning services that help women avoid unintended pregnancy have a proven track record," says Guttmacher Senior Public Policy Associate Adam Sonfield. "In the absence of the services provided at publicly funded family planning centers, the costs of unintended pregnancy would be 60% higher than they are today."

"Unintended Pregnancy Rates at the State Level: Estimates for 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008" provides unintended pregnancy estimates for 2008 among resident women aged 15–44 for each U.S. state and the District of Columbia. This report also updates estimates for 2002, 2004 and 2006 using the 2010 national census data released by the United States Census Bureau.

For more information:

Facts on Unintended Pregnancy in the United States
State Data Center

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