Abortion Rate Among Teens Down More than One-Third in Last Decade

Washington, DC – The abortion rate among teens ages 15 to 17 has declined by more than a third since 1990, from 26.5 abortions per 1,000 teens ages 15 to 17 in 1990 to 15.2 abortions per 1,000 teens in 1999. Overall, teen abortion rates have been declining since the late 1980s.

More than one-third of all teenage pregnancies in the U.S. end in abortion. The vast majority of teenage pregnancies are unintended, and close to half of those unintended pregnancies (45 percent) end in an abortion.

“This good news provides another chance for everyone to be reminded that abortion levels can be reduced even further if the high rate of unintended pregnancies is reduced,” said Kristin Moore, Ph.D., president of Child Trends. “Research is showing that both abstinence and contraception can help us to achieve this goal.”

The latest available data on abortion rates among teens can be found at,https://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=teen-abortions.

Information on the DataBank includes:

  • Government estimates indicate that teen abortion rates increased during the 1970s, then stabilized during the 1980s at around 43 per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19, then decreased steadily to 24.7 per 1,000 by 1999. Recent declines have been especially large among teens ages 15 to 17.

  • Younger teens have a lower abortion rate than older teens, reflecting their lower pregnancy rate. In 1999, teens under age 15 had an abortion rate of 0.9 per 1,000, compared with 15.2 per 1,000 for teens ages 15 to 17, and 38.6 per 1,000 among teens ages 18 to 19.

  • Non-Hispanic black teens have much higher abortion rates than Hispanic and non-Hispanic white teens. In 1999, there were 15.5 abortions per 1,000 non-Hispanic white adolescent females ages 15 to 19, compared to 58.1 per 1,000 among non-Hispanic black adolescent females and 32.1 per 1,000 among Hispanic adolescent females.

Data on teen abortion rates is provided by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Child Trends, founded in 1979, is an independent, nonpartisan research center dedicated to improving the lives of children and their families by conducting research and providing science-based information to the public and decision-makers.