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An estimate of lifetime incidence of abortion in the United States using the 2021-2022 Abortion Patient Survey.

Contraception 2024 April 3
OBJECTIVE: The Guttmacher Institute estimated that, in 2014, 24% of US women of reproductive age would have an abortion by age 45 if the 2014 abortion rate was maintained. This study updates the estimated lifetime incidence of abortion in the year(s) just prior to the Dobbs decision, which removed federal protections for abortion.

STUDY DESIGN: We used data from the Guttmacher Institute's 2021-2022 Abortion Patient Survey (APS) and population data for 2020 and 2021 from the Census Bureau, as well as abortion counts from the Guttmacher Institute's 2020 Abortion Provider Census, to estimate abortion rates, first abortion rates and cumulative abortion rates, all by age group. We calculated multiple estimates of lifetime incidence under varying hypothetical conditions as tests of sensitivity.

RESULTS: We estimate that 24.7% (95% CI: 22.9-26.3) of women aged 15-44 in 2020 would have had an abortion by age 45 if abortion rates in 2020 remain constant. These figures changed slightly when we examined scenarios assuming a 5% increase in abortion between 2020 and 2021 (25.9, 95% CI: 24.0-27.6) and when we adjusted for the potential overrepresentation of adolescent and young adult respondents in the 2021-2022 APS (23.9, 95% CI: 22.2-25.6).

CONCLUSIONS: In the year(s) prior to the Dobbs decision, one-quarter of US women would have been expected to have at least one abortion in their lifetime if abortion rates for those years stayed the same.

IMPLICATIONS: Significant numbers of individuals are being affected by abortion bans, but we are unable to predict how these restrictions will impact abortion incidence or the lifetime incidence in the coming years.

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