Report shows rebound in number of US abortions
Protesters demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in the morning as the court takes up a major abortion case focusing on whether a Texas law that imposes strict regulations on abortion doctors and clinic buildings interferes with the constitutional right of a woman to end her pregnancy, in Washington March 2, 2016. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

The number of abortions reported in the United States rose eight percent between 2017 and 2020, reversing a 30-year downward trend as the nation awaits a Supreme Court ruling on whether the nationwide right to the procedure will remain, a study published Wednesday showed.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a widely-cited US think tank that supports abortion rights and published the report, the trend reversal shows that the "need for abortion care in the United States is growing just as the US Supreme Court appears likely to overturn or gut Roe v. Wade."

By the end of June, the court is expected to rule on whether to maintain the 50-year Roe v. Wade precedent, which established a nationwide right to abortion, or overturn it and allow individual states to set their own rules.

In early May, a draft opinion leaked from the high court showing that the court was leaning towards the latter option.

According to the Guttmacher Institute's report, more than 930,000 abortions occurred in the United States in 2020, compared to 860,000 in 2017.

That correlates to 14.4 abortions per thousand women of childbearing age in 2020, versus 13.5 three years earlier, the institute said.

It also noted that while an increase could be seen across all regions in the country, there was variation between states and even areas within states.

Local policy changes could explain the differences -- such as the opening of new clinics, or certain states choosing to cover abortion in health plans. But "there were no clear patterns to explain why some (states) had increases or decreases," the report said.

Due to new forms and more widespread use of contraception, the trend in abortion had steadily declined for 30 years -- first dipping below 1.5 million in the early 1990s.

Every three years, the Guttmacher Institute surveys all health care facilities providing abortions in the United States, creating the nation's most authoritative dataset. But it still excludes self-managed abortions, the institute says.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 630,000 abortions in 2019, but lacks data from several heavily populated states, such as California.