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Impact of Emergency Contraception

Unintended Pregnancy in the United States

Unintended pregnancy – the term researchers use to describe getting pregnant when you aren’t trying to have a baby – is a significant problem in the United States today. Despite the many types of birth control available, the United States still has a far higher of unintended pregnancy than most other industrialized countries. The 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, supplemented by data from other sources, provides the latest information on unintended pregnancy, which affects one in every 20 women in the United States each year.

  • 49% of all pregnancies are unintended
  • 3.1 million unintended pregnancies occurred in 2001
  • 44% of unintended pregnancies resulted in births, 42% ended in abortion, and 14% were miscarriages
  • 48% of women with an unintended pregnancy said they were using birth control during the month they got pregnant
  • 40% of women with an unintended pregnancy who gave birth were using contraception when they got pregnant, compared with 54% of women with unintended pregnancies who had abortions.

Finer LB and SK Henshaw. Disparities in Rates of Unintended Pregnancy in the United States, 1994 and 2001. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 2006;38(2):90-96.


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