U.S. Abortion Rate Hits Lowest Point Since 1973: Which States Saw The Least and Most Terminations?

Every few years, the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit sexual health organization, releases information about the abortion rate in the United States. Their data is more up-to-date — and in many ways more comprehensive — than the abortion statistics put together by federal agencies, so it's trusted by people on both sides of the debate.

According to its latest set of data, for the year 2011, the abortion rate in the U.S. has dipped to the lowest rate since 1973 — correlating with a decrease in pregnancy and birth rates across the country.

According to the organization, America's overall rate of abortion has declined to 16.9 abortions per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44 in 2011. By comparison, in 1981, the rate peaked at 29.3 per 1,000; in 1973, the rate was 16.3 per 1,000. But which states have the highest abortion rates? And the lowest?


1. New York: 13.1 percent of all Abortions in United States

According to the data, New York has the highest abortion rate in the U.S.; with a rate of 34.2 per 1,000 women of reproductive age. In 2008, the rate was 37.7 abortions per 1,000 women — that translates to a nine percent decline over those three years.

In terms of the actual numbers, 2011 saw 138,370 women getting abortions in New York; compared to 149,070 in 2008.

Of course, some of the women who got abortions weren't New Yorkers, and some New Yorkers may have gotten their abortions elsewhere, so the numbers don't necessarily reflect the rate of abortion of state residents. But they probably do have something to do with the availability of abortion clinics: New York had 94 abortion clinics in 2011.

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2. Maryland: 3.2 percent of all abortions in the United States

Although the state with the second-highest actual number of abortions goes to California, the state with second-highest rate surprisingly goes to Maryland, which produced a rate of 28.6 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age in 2011. That's actually up from 2008, when the abortion rate was 23.7 per 1,000 women.

Number-wise, 28,390 Maryland residents got abortions in 2008, compared with 34,260 in 2011.

The number of abortion clinics in Maryland in 2011 wasn't that high, though: just 21 clinics were open in the state, same as Rhode Island, Virginia, and North Carolina.

3. California: 17.2 percent of all abortions in the United States

In 2011, 181,730 women had abortions in California, producing a rate of 23 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age. That's a decline of a whopping 16 percent since 2008, when 211,930 Californians had abortions; producing a rate 27.1 per 1,000 women.

In 2011, 160 abortion clinics existed in California, the highest number of abortion clinics in a state in the country.

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1. Wyoming: zero percent of all abortions in the United States

Whaddya know, in 2011, only 120 women got abortions in Wyoming — a rate of 1.1 abortions per 1,000 women. Back in 2008, 1,060 Wyoming residents obtained abortions, producing a rate of 10.2 per 1,000 women of reproductive age. Another massive decrease.

As to the number of abortion clinics they had in 2011? Zero. That's right, zero abortion clinics. There were, however, three abortion providers.

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2. South Dakota: 0.1 percent of all abortions in the United States

Back in 2008, just 970 women in South Dakota terminated their pregnancies, a rate of 6.4 per 1,000 women of reproductive age. In 2011, by contrast, only 600 women had abortions in the state, declining to a rate of 3.9 abortions per 1000 women of reproductive age.South Dakota only had one abortion clinic in 2011, and that's still true today. The same is true for Mississippi and North Dakota.

Of course, since the data is from 2011 — before this summer of abortion restrictions in Texas — the information doesn't reflect the closure of abortion clinics in the Lone Star state.