Medication abortion accounted for 63% of US abortions in 2023, new study finds

Written by on March 19, 2024

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(NEW YORK) — Medication abortion accounted for 63% of all the abortions performed in the U.S. in 2023, according to a new study from the Guttmacher Institute.

In the first full calendar year following the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in July 2022, approximately 642,700 medication abortions took place within the health care system, according to Guttmacher’s Monthly Provision Study. Since the court’s decision, 14 states have ceased nearly all abortions.

By comparison, medication abortions accounted for 53% of abortions in the U.S. in 2020, according to the study.

One of the pills used in the medication abortion regimen, mifepristone, is at the center of a legal challenge before the Supreme Court which could restrict nationwide access to the pill.

The utilization of medication abortions has steadily increased over the last two decades.

The most common medication abortion regimen consists of two medications, mifepristone and misoprotol. Under current Food and Drug Administration guidelines, mifepristone is safe for use up to 10 weeks of pregnancy and can be sent to patients following a telehealth appointment.

The Guttmacher Institute estimates that the total number of medication abortions is higher than the study’s count, because the study only includes abortions provided within the formal health care system.

The study does not take into account self-managed abortions which take place outside the formal health care system or abortion medication mailed to patients living in states with abortion bans in effect, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

The study also found that, in 2023, there were an estimated 1,026,690 abortions in the formal U.S. health care system and a rate of 15.7 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age. This represents a 10% increase in the number of abortions from 2020 and is the highest number and rate of abortions measured in the country in more than a decade. It’s the first year since 2012 that there were more than one million abortions provided in the formal health care system.

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to weigh in on abortion once again when it hears arguments in a lawsuit seeking to revoke the FDA’s approval of mifepristone. The court could restrict the ability to mail abortion medication to patients living in states with bans in effect and require that the drug be provided in-person.

Earlier this month, CVS and Walgreens announced that they would begin selling mifepristone in some states.

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