The average woman spends about five years pregnant, postpartum or trying to become pregnant, and three decades trying to avoid an unintended pregnancy.
Currently, about half (51%) of the 6.6 million pregnancies in the United States
each year (3.4 million) are unintended
By age 45, more than half of all American women will have experienced an unintended pregnancy, and three in 10 will have had an abortion.
Unintended pregnancy rates are highest among poor and low-income women, women aged 18–24, cohabiting women and minority women.
The rate of unintended pregnancy among poor women (those with incomes at or below the federal poverty level) in 2008 was 137 per 1,000 women aged 15–44, more than five times the rate among women at the highest income level (26 per 1,000).
Poor women’s high rate of unintended pregnancy results in their also having high rates of both abortions (52 per 1,000) and unplanned births (70 per 1,000). In 2008, poor women had an unintended birth rate nearly six times as high as that of higher-income women (at or above 200% of poverty.)
In 2008, women without a high school degree had the highest unintended pregnancy rate among all educational levels (101 per 1,000 women aged 15–44), and rates were lower for women with more years of education.
Traditional estimates understate the extent to which sexually active teens experience unintended pregnancies, because they typically include all women, whether or not they are sexually active. The unintended pregnancy rate among only those teens who are sexually active is more than twice the rate among all women.[
Compared with higher-income women, poor and low-income women are less likely to end an unintended pregnancy by abortion. Consequently, poor women have a relatively high unintended birth rate.
In 2010, two-thirds (68%) of the 1.5 million unplanned births were paid for by public insurance programs, primarily Medicaid. In comparison, 51% of births overall and 38% of planned births were funded by these programs.
Of the 2.0 million publicly funded births, about half, 1 million, were unplanned. By comparison, 1.5 million out of 4.0 million total births nationwide were unplanned (38%).
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2020 campaign aims to reduce unintended pregnancy by 10%, from 49% of pregnancies to 44% of pregnancies, over the next 10 years.
Total public expenditures on unintended pregnancies nationwide were estimated to be $21.0 billion in 2010. Of that, $14.6 billion were federal expenditures and $6.4 billion were state expenditures.