Five startling facts about pregnancy and abortion in America

December 5, 2013

Fewer women are getting pregnant.


The pregnancy rate for American women between 15 and 44 dropped 12 percent between 1990 and 2009, according to a new Center for Disease Control report out today on pregnancy and abortion. In 2009, there were 102.1 pregnancies per 1,000 women, a drop from 115.8 pregnancies per 1,000 women in 1990.

Much of the drop is due to a huge decrease in teen pregnancies.


The teen pregnancy rate has steadily tumbled downwards over the past two decades, aside from a small uptick in the mid-2000s. It has been cut in half over the past decade, from 61.8 births per 1,000 women between 15 and 19 to 29.4 births. Weirdly though, this is one statistic that has trouble making its way into the public sphere: When the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unintended Pregnancy surveyed on the issue, it found that 50 percent of Americans thought teen pregnancy had been getting worse in recent years.

Racial disparities on teen pregnancy are getting smaller but still pretty bad.


Black and Hispanic teen birth rates are still double the the size of the Non-Hispanic white teen birth rate. At the same time, there were much larger disparities when the CDC began tracking teen births in the 1990s. From 1990 to 2009, the birth rate for black teens has fallen by 51 percent and by 40 percent for Hispanic teenagers.

The only women having more pregnancies are older than 30. 

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Women between 30 and 44 are the only ones seeing higher rates of pregnancy. Overall, the age of pregnancy is shifting upwards, and quickly. Just a decade ago, in 2000, women between 20 and 24 had the highest rate in of pregnancy. In 2009, the most recent year for which CDC data is available, that has shifted to women between 25 and 29, who now have a birth rate of 162 per 1,000 women.

The abortion rate has fallen by one-third in the past two decades.


This is the result of two trends, the first being an overall decrease in pregnancies. The second is a smaller portion of pregnancies ending in abortion. Among married women, the percent of pregnancies ending in abortion fell from 10.6 percent in 1990 to 6.1 percent in 2009. Among unmarried women, there was a a significant drop from 47.7 percent of pregnancies ending in abortion in 1990 to 28.9 percent in 2009.

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Ezra Klein · December 5, 2013