Teenage Abortion Statistics

Teenage abortion statistics often correlate with unplanned teen pregnancy rates. This article contains stats and facts about teen pregnancy and abortion.  Keep reading for information on the physical and emotional effects of abortion, and alternatives to abortion.

Teenage abortion statistics are strongly linked to teen pregnancy rates, and the numbers for both have declined from their peak in the 1980s. The numbers in the US are still high compared to most other developed nations, however, and because of the negative physical, emotional, and social consequences that pregnancy and abortion can have on a teen's life, these statistics are concerning. 

Abortion statistics on abortion cover all cases of abortion. Though many abortions occur because teens are facing an unwanted pregnancy, which is known as elective abortion, abortions are also performed in cases of rape or incest, or when the pregnancy is threatening the health of the mother or the fetus is not viable.

In recent years the number of teen pregnancies and teen abortions have declined; according to the Guttmacher Institute, there has been a 50% drop in teen abortions since the peak in late 1980s. More teens waiting to have sex until they are older has helped to reduce these numbers, as has better contraceptive use. USA Today reports, however, that the last few years have seen a slight increase in teen pregnancy rates. Birth rates increased 4% and abortion rates increased 1%. This may be due to any number of causes, including poor sex education among teens, social trends, or even the influence of the media.

Some other abortion statistics and facts about teen pregnancy:

  • Abortion is more common in the US than in Canada and Western Europe, but less common than in China and Eastern Europe.
  • The majority of abortions occur in teens and younger women. The younger a teen is when she gets pregnant, the more likely she is to seek an abortion.
  • A little over half of teens will have sex before graduating high school.
  • Teens having unprotected sex have a 90% chance of becoming pregnant within a year, and sexually active teens may also become pregnant when birth control fails
  • 1 in 3 women get pregnant before age 20.
  • About 750,000 teens get pregnant each year. Two-thirds of these pregnancies, however, are 18 and 19 year olds, who may or may not be married.
  • About one third of teens who get pregnant seek an abortion.
  • Currently, 24 of every 1,000 teens has an abortion. This means that over 200,000 teens get an abortion every year.
  • About 80% of women who get abortions are single.
  • Though reporting of abortions by race is imperfect, it appears that abortion rates are higher among blacks than whites, and somewhat lower among Hispanics than whites, according to data from the CDC.
  • Teen abortion statistic rates are highest in California, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington D.C., while they are lowest in Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Kentucky.
  • In Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and D.C., over half of pregnancies end in abortion.

Abortion is legal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, but the exact rules regarding abortions vary from state to state. Many states require a teen to have parental consent or intervention by a judge in order to get an abortion.

Teenage abortion statistics on side effects of teen abortion are not well documented, but some general information is available.

Some physical side effects are very common in teenage abortions, including:

  • Cramping
  • Bleeding
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

MedlinePlus reports that teenage abortions later in pregnancy, when teens are more likely to seek abortions, are at higher risk for complications, like:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Infection
  • Damage to reproductive organs
  • Negative emotional or psychological responses

Physical complications of  teenage abortions are relatively rare. According to the CDC, death of pregnant teens due to abortion is very rare, with abortion complications killing fewer than 20 teens and women each year. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports, however, that many teens experience negative emotional responses to abortion, such as sadness, and teens who get teenage abortions may be at increased risk for substance abuse.

Emotional effects of teenage abortion can include:

  • Regret
  • Guilt or shame
  • Anger
  • Feeling lonely or having relationship problems
  • Lowered self confidence
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Sleep problem, including nightmares
  • Eating disorders
  • Suicidal thoughts

Anyone may experience these side effects, including teenagers who do not expect to feel negative emotions about teenage abortion. These problems are more likely, however, in those who:

  • Were forced or pressured into having an abortion, even for medical reasons
  • Have other emotional issues
  • Have moral or ethical beliefs that are opposed to abortion
  • Do not have a support system
  • Have an abortion later in their pregnancy

Counseling and discussion of all of a pregnant teen’s options, including parenting and adoption, is usually recommended for teens prior to the decision to have an abortion due to abortion’s potential negative emotional effects.


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 4Parents.gov, "Teen Pregnancy" [online]
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, "ASPE Brief - Background Statistics - Teen Sexual Activity" [online]
Centers for Disease Control, Division of Reproductive Health, "Abortion Surveillance - United States, 2000" [online]
Guttmacher Institute, "U.S. Teenage Pregnancy Statistics National and State Trends and Trends by Race and Ethnicity" [online]
Sharon Jayson, USA Today, "Teen Pregnancy, Abortion Rates Rise" [online]
Rose Welton, Livestrong, "Teen Abortion Facts" [online]
U.S. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus, "Abortion" [online]
American Pregnancy Association, Abortion, "Possible Physical Side Effects" and "Possible Emotional Side Effects" [online]

Related Article: Surviving an Unplanned Pregnancy >>