On March 19, the Guttmacher Institute published a report claiming the number of abortions in the U.S. has increased back over the 1 million mark in 2023. This is devastating news, so let’s take a deeper dive to understand the data.

How fast are abortions increasing?

Since 1990, abortion had been decreasing nearly every year. But since 2017, that trend changed. Guttmacher estimates there were 1,026,690 abortions in America in 2023; the last year abortions were above the 1 million mark was 2012.

To give you an idea of the numbers, here’s a quick summary of some Guttmacher estimates:

  • 1973: 744,600
  • 1980: 1,553,900
  • 1990: 1,608,600
  • 2000: 1,313,000
  • 2010: 1,102, 700
  • 2013: 958,700
  • 2017: 862,320
  • 2018: 885,500
  • 2019: 916,460
  • 2020: 930,160
  • 2023: 1,026,690

(We don’t have the 2021 or 2022 numbers yet from Guttmacher’s more detailed survey.)

What about Michigan?

According to this study, abortions in Michigan have increased 16% since 2020.

Why are abortions increasing?

With Roe v. Wade overturned in the Dobbs case and states now free to set their own abortion laws or regulations, several states have put safeguards around abortion to protect women, parents, children, physicians and society more broadly. So, one might expect, or at least hope for, abortions to decrease. Yet, while some studies indicate more babies have been born in those states, abortions are still increasing nationally.

In Guttmacher’s analysis of their numbers they suggest several reasons:

  • Removal of safeguards around distribution of the abortion pill: In recent years the FDA changed safety rules to make it easier to get abortion pills, without regard to the impact on a woman’s health and safety. Women can receive the pills in the mail without having to be physically be examined by a doctor, which means the gestational age of the unborn child is not necessarily known. Additionally, she no longer needs to take the pills with the oversight of a physician who would watch for potential complications, putting her at even greater risk of harm.  While a woman’s experience after taking the abortion pill can be significantly worse than having a surgical abortion, the idea of simply taking a pill versus having a surgical procedure seems a lot easier and the costs are lower.
  • More abortion funding: Whether through tax funding from states, insurance coverage, or from abortion funds that help women pay for abortions, the amount of money available to spend on abortions has increased dramatically since the Dobbs decision in 2022.
  • States removing prolife laws: Many states, including Michigan, have removed health and safety regulations designed to protect women. This was occurring even before the Dobbs decision, most notably in New York. By making abortions cheaper to provide with fewer health and safety regulations to follow, more abortions occurring is the likely result.

In addition to those, here’s some other possible causes:

  • Inflation and economic changes: In the past, we’ve seen an increase in abortions when the cost of living has increased or job markets have declined. Studies on reasons women have abortion show the vast majority are fears related to economic or social reasons. As the cost of items like groceries and housing have dramatically increased in recent years, many people fear they aren’t able to support a child.
  • Changes in childbearing desire: In America (and globally) we see declining birth rates. Guttmacher briefly mentions this in relation to post-pandemic changes. This is particularly troubling, because as long-term demographics continue to trend towards an aging population, fewer and fewer young people will feel a greater squeeze to be productive and support older generations.
  • A loss of hope.

Initially, it could seem like abortion is the best or even only option when faced with an unexpected pregnancy, unpaid bills and fear of no support. Thankfully, the reality is much more hopeful – there is support, even when a women might least expect it.

Michigan is home to 150 pregnancy resource centers and adoption agencies, roughly 100 of those are dedicated resource centers. These centers offer an incredible array of wrap around services, including free medical care, counseling, material and clothing support, emergency housing assistance, transportation and help with health insurance.

Women must have every opportunity to make a hope filled, courageous choice for life when facing an unexpected pregnancy. We support and honor all those in our communities who are helping women make that beautiful choice!

If you are someone you know is pregnant and needs help, know that help is just a phone call away. Please call or text 1-800-712-HELP.