Unintended and unplanned pregnancies have a larger effect on women in the United States than you may think. It’s important to understand the scope of unintended pregnancy rates in the U.S. in order to address an issue that affects not only the women facing these unplanned pregnancies but also their friends, family, children and American society at large.
The United States government has already begun taking steps toward decreasing unintended pregnancy rates through proper education and understanding of family-planning efforts — but that’s not enough. It’s important for everyone in the nation to be informed about the causes and effects of unplanned pregnancies, and the first place to start is by learning more about unplanned pregnancy statistics.
Below, find some answers to commonly asked questions about unwanted pregnancy statistics in the United States today.
1. What percentage of pregnancies are unplanned?
The most recent unintended pregnancy statistics from the Guttmacher Institute found that 45 percent of all pregnancies in the U.S. in 2011 were unintended. That’s almost half — 2.8 million — of the 6.1 million pregnancies in the U.S. that year.
The Institute broke this number down further. Of the 2.8 million unintended pregnancies in 2011, 27 percent were mistimed, meaning a woman did not want to become pregnant at that time but did want to become pregnant in the future. On the other hand, 28 percent of pregnancies were unwanted, meaning the woman did not want to become pregnant at all, then or in the future.
Any women who were indifferent about becoming pregnant were not included in the unintended pregnancy statistics for this study.
2. What are the unintended pregnancy rates at the state level in the U.S.?
In 2010 (the year with the most recent data), at least 36 percent of pregnancies in every state were unintended, with rates over 50 percent in 28 states and the District of Columbia. The rate of unplanned pregnancies in the U.S. was generally highest in the South and Southwest.
Delaware was the state with the highest unintended pregnancy rates, while New Hampshire had the lowest unintended pregnancy rates in the country.
3. Which percentage of unplanned pregnancies results in parenting, adoption and abortion?
In 2011, 42 percent of unplanned pregnancies resulted in abortion, while 58 percent resulted in a live birth. This figure does not include miscarriages.
Unfortunately, there are no federal statistics regarding how many of those live births resulted in an adoption placement. The National Council for Adoption reported that, in 2014, there were only about 4.6 children placed for adoption per 1,000 live births — which works out to less than 1 percent. Therefore, it would be safe to assume the other live births resulted in parenting by the mother.
4. What percentage of teen pregnancies are unplanned?
The Guttmacher Institute reports that 614,000 teenagers became pregnant in 2010, and that 82 percent of those pregnancies were unplanned. In total, about 6 percent of teenagers faced a pregnancy in 2010.
Unplanned teenage pregnancy statistics continue to decline, although the rates of teenage sexual intercourse do not. What has changed? More teenagers today are using contraception when having sex. The drop in unplanned teenage pregnancies resonates across state lines and across racial and ethnic groups.
5. Which demographics have the highest unintended pregnancy rates?
Unplanned pregnancy statistics are highest among:
- Poor and low-income women
- Women between the ages of 18 and 24
- Cohabitating women (unmarried women living with their partners)
- And minority women
When only taking into account those who are sexually active, women between the ages of 15 and 19 have the highest unintended pregnancy rate of any age group.
In addition, poor and low-income women had higher birth rates, likely because they could not afford the expenses of an abortion procedure or could not safely obtain one. Today, unintended pregnancy statistics are concentrated in this group, likely because of the lack of education about and availability of family-planning methods. In fact, the women who most frequently have unplanned pregnancies are those who inconsistently or incorrectly use contraceptives, or those who do not practice contraception at all. These women’s practices result in 95 percent of all unplanned pregnancies in the U.S.
Accidental pregnancy statistics reveal a great deal about the current state of unintended pregnancies, contraceptive use and family-planning in the United States. The U.S. has one of the highest percentages of accidental pregnancies of developed nations in the world today, and this high rate has many effects on the U.S. economy and the women living within it.
To learn more about statistics on pregnancy in the U.S., see The Guttmacher Institute or The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, please contact an unplanned pregnancy options counselor or find more unplanned pregnancy guidance here.