Key Points

Unintended pregnancy is an important indicator of the public health of a population, and the goal of reducing the incidence of unintended pregnancy is included in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ ongoing Healthy People 2020 initiative to improve the health of the nation. The Guttmacher Institute has monitored progress toward this goal at the national level, and its most recent estimates—for 2008—of the unintended pregnancy rates for the U.S. population as a whole and for many subgroups were published in 2014 by Finer and Zolna. Their analysis showed that in 2008, 51% of pregnancies in the United States were unintended and the unintended pregnancy rate was 54 per 1,000 women aged 15–44. Between 2001 and 2008, the national rate of intended pregnancy decreased and the national rate of unintended pregnancy increased; also increasing were disparities in unintended pregnancy rates by union status, income and education.

Births from unintended pregnancies present a substantial burden on the lives of women and families, as well as significant costs for federal and state governments. Since 2011, the Guttmacher Institute has published periodic estimates of unintended pregnancy rates for individual states, which allow states to monitor trends in these essential public health indicators over time. In addition, these statistics enable comparisons of experiences across states, as well as provide benchmarks for measuring the impact of pregnancy prevention and other public health programs. The estimates presented in this report are the most recent and comparable statistics available on unintended pregnancy for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

This report provides updated estimates for 2010 of the number of unintended pregnancies, rates of unintended and intended pregnancies, and percentage distributions of unintended pregnancies by wantedness and pregnancy outcome among women aged 15–44 residing in each U.S. state and the District of Columbia. The level and variation among states in 2010 is discussed, as well as trends in unintended pregnancy rates over the period 2002–2010. Previous reports providing estimates for 2002, 2004 and 2006 were first published in 2011 by Finer and Kost.10 In 2013, estimates for 2008 were published, and included updated estimates for prior years using final intercensal population estimates. In this publication, updated estimates for 2006 and 2008 are also included in an appendix (Appendix Tables 1 and 2).