One in Four US Women Expected to Have an Abortion in Their Lifetime

13% of women in the United States likely to have an abortion by age 25

A new analysis from the Guttmacher Institute’s Abortion Patient Survey estimates that one in four (24.7%) US women of reproductive age1  will have an abortion by age 45 if the 2020 abortion rate remains constant. This is largely unchanged from 2014, the last year for which this statistic was calculated, when the lifetime incidence was 23.6%.  

“This statistic confirms what we already know: Abortion is a normal part of the reproductive lives of people with the capacity to become pregnant,” said Rachel Jones, Guttmacher principal research scientist. “Bans and restrictions are designed to stigmatize abortion, but our study shows one in four women is expected to have an abortion in their lifetime. That means that almost everyone, including abortion opponents, knows someone who has had an abortion.” 

The study also generated abortion rates and incidence of first abortion by age-group. Additional findings include:  

  • The abortion rate was highest for 20–24-year-olds (32.7 abortions per 1,000) and lowest for adolescents aged 15–17 (2.1 abortions per 1,000). 

  • 58% of all abortion patients surveyed reported that they were obtaining their first abortion. 

  • 41–43% of individuals in their 30s and 40s reported that they were obtaining their first abortion, meaning the majority (57–59%) had had a prior abortion. 

  • 13% of all US women would be expected to have an abortion by age 25, given 2020 abortion rates.  

This study provides an important baseline for understanding the commonality of abortion in the years immediately prior to the Dobbs decision, which overturned the federal right to abortion in June 2022. Recent Guttmacher research found that abortions increased 10% between 2020 and 2023, and thus it is possible that the lifetime incidence has increased, as well. Moreover, the current study did not capture self-managed abortions (e.g., abortions obtained outside the formal health care system), and this, too, could mean that lifetime incidence is higher than the current estimate. 


The primary source for estimating the lifetime incidence of abortion was Guttmacher’s 2021–2022 Abortion Patient Survey (APS), which provides information about the characteristics of 6,698 US women accessing clinical abortion care at 56 non-hospital facilities in 21 states between June 2021 and July 2022. Additional data sources include Guttmacher’s 2020 Abortion Census and 2020 and 2021 population data from the US Census Bureau.  

The estimate of lifetime incidence can be impacted by rapid changes in the abortion rate and a potential overrepresentation of young people in the APS. To account for the sensitivity of the estimate to these conditions, the researchers examined the measure with several adjustments. These included increasing the number of abortions by 5% to account for the increase in abortion incidence between 2000 and 2021 and assuming an older age distribution of abortion patients.  Even with these adjustments, the estimate was very similar to the original unadjusted figure of 24.7%.  

The full analysis, including a complete methodology is available here. 

  • 1Individuals who do not identify as women also have abortions, and while these individuals are included in Guttmacher’s Abortion Patient Survey, the US Census Bureau does not currently account for gender diversity. We use estimates of the population of women of reproductive age as a denominator due to lack of alternative data.