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Fam Plann Perspect. 1994 May-Jun;26(3):100-6, 112.

Abortion services in the United States, 1991 and 1992.

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  • 1Alan Guttmacher Institute, New York.


According to a survey by The Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1,529,000 abortions were performed in 1992, the lowest number of abortions since 1979. The abortion rate has gradually declined, from a high of 29 per 1,000 women of reproductive age in 1981 to 26 per 1,000 in 1992. The number of hospitals, clinics and physicians' offices that provide abortions--2,380 in 1992--has been declining at a rate of about 65 a year. Most of the decline has occurred among hospitals; the number providing abortions decreased by 18% between 1988 and 1992. Most U.S. counties (84%) have no known abortion provider, and in nonmetropolitan areas, 94% of counties have no provider. Among metropolitan areas, 33% have either no abortion provider or none that serves at least 50 women per year. Among states, North Dakota and South Dakota have only one provider each. Most abortions (69%) are performed in abortion clinics, and only 7% are performed in hospitals. Fewer than 1% of women who have an abortion are hospitalized for the procedure.


The most recent Alan Guttmacher Institute survey, which collected data on abortions provided in the US in 1991 and 1992, documented continued declines in the abortion rate and the number of abortion providers. The number of abortions performed per year remained relatively stable from 1980-90, at about 1,600,000, but declined to l,557,000 in 1991 and to l,529,000 in 1992. This represents a decline in the abortion rate from a high of 29/1000 women of reproductive age in 1981 to 26/1000 in 1992. 49% of all abortions in 1992 occurred in New York, California, Texas, Florida, and Illinois. At present, two states--North and South Dakota--have only one abortion provider each. The number of abortions performed in nonmetropolitan counties has dropped from 67,000 in 1979 to 23,000 in 1992, and 94% of these counties currently have no abortion provider. Even in metropolitan counties, 51% have no abortion service. In 1992, there were 2380 facilities providing abortion--a decline of 202 since 1988. Only 7% of abortions are performed at hospitals--the sector that has been eliminating abortion services at the fastest rate. Only one-sixth of the decline in abortion procedures since 1988 can be explained by the changing age structure of women in the reproductive years. Other contributing factors may include fewer unintended pregnancies, greater acceptance of single motherhood, erosions in acceptance of the right to abortion, and the lack of accessibility of abortion services in nonmetropolitan areas.

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