What's at stake: Tens of thousands of Michigan abortions each year for varied personal, emotional reasons

May 03, 2022, 9:15 PM

Behind newly intensified abortion rights activism and anxiety in Michigan are tens of thousands of personal experiences each year.

Statistics from the latest yearly state health department report last June give patient-level details that underlie the political and social debate over a turning-point decision coming by June from the U.S. Supreme Court.

International Women's Day marchers in Washington, D.C., in 2017. (Photo: Rena Schild/DepositPhotos)

In 2020, Michigan recorded 29,669 medically induced abortions, including 1,632 for non-residents.

Medical, financial and personal reasons for the procedure include pregnancy complications, other maternal health issues, relationship status, age, rape, incest and private decisions by women, couples and families in consultation with professional caregivers.    

The total was 8.5 percent higher than in 2019, though abortions generally have decreased in this state over the past three and a half decades. They're down nearly 40 percent since the record high of 1987, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Here are other snapshots of the 2020 Michigan patients:

Two-thirds already are mothers: 66.9% of abortions were performed on women who had a full-term pregnancy earlier. 40.7% of them had at least two completed pregnancies.

First time for most: 51.2% hadn't previously had an abortion. (25.1% had one earlier, while 23.7% had two or more.)

No spouse: 85.1% percent were unmarried.

Age: 36.7% were under 25 years of age, while 8.3% were younger than 20.

♦ Setting: 89.3% were done in specialty clinics such as Planned Parenthood, 7.6% were in hospitals and 3.1% were in doctors' offices.

Timing: 89% were performed at 12 weeks of pregnancy or earlier.

♦ Payment: 95.7% paid the fees personally.

Data such as these, and stories behind the numbers, can counterbalance political rhetoric by humanizing the discussion, says Sommer Foster, co-director of a Detroit advocacy group called Michigan Voices. "We need people to tell their stories to their friends, families and even to strangers," she tweets Tuesday.

"Abortion is not something to be ashamed of and we should talk about it. 25% of the country has had an abortion. Everyone knows someone that has had an abortion whether they know it or not." 


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