Demonstrators gathered at the state Capitol Thursday as the House debated the PRO Act, which would enshrine in law a right to an abortion. The bill passed but still needs Senate approval. Photo by Grace Deng/Minnesota Reformer.
This week the state Senate plans to take up a bill that will codify stronger protections for abortion and other reproductive health care rights into state law. The bill has already passed the House, and is considered a top legislative priority for the new DFL trifecta in St. Paul.
Abortion rights are currently protected here by a 90s-era Minnesota Supreme Court precedent called Doe v. Gomez. But the bill the state Senate will take up Friday — SF1, or the Protect Reproductive Options or PRO Act — would create a new obstacle for opponents seeking to outlaw abortion here in Minnesota.
Minnesota stands out among the states for collecting highly detailed data on abortions conducted within its borders, including gestational age, reasons for obtaining the abortion, and maternal demographics.
Overall, the latest data show that abortion rates in Minnesota are holding steady after several decades of decline, mirroring national trends, and that the lion’s share of abortions happen in the first trimester and are induced via medicine, not surgery.
The charts below reflect data on Minnesota residents who obtain abortions in-state, and do not include the roughly 10% of abortions performed in Minnesota on women who have traveled from elsewhere.
The abortion rate has halved since the 1980s
Abortions have become considerably less common in Minnesota since the 1980s, falling by roughly half over the past four decades. In 2021, the latest year with available data, there were about 8.5 abortions for every 1,000 residents.
Among women aged 15 to 44, the Minnesota abortion rate of 9.5 abortions per 1,000 residents is considerably less than the national average of 11.1, according to separate CDC data.
More than 90% of abortions happen in the first trimester
State data show that in 2021 just 8% of abortions were performed in the second trimester. The report further lists just one abortion performed in the third trimester, at week 28.
Most abortions happen in the first trimester, peaking at roughly the sixth week of gestational age. That’s right around the time most women find out they are pregnant, with an embryo that’s about the size of a lentil bean.
Nearly two-thirds of Minnesota abortions are induced by medication
Most abortions in the state are performed via medicine like Mifepristone and Misoprostol, reflecting the fact that most pregnancies are terminated in the first trimester. Of the 9,127 abortions performed on Minnesota residents in 2021, a little over 3,000 involved surgery.
Women in their twenties account for most abortions
A little over half of Minnesota abortions were obtained by women in their twenties in 2021, with roughly an even split between those in their early and late twenties. Another third of abortions were sought by women aged 30 and older. Fewer than 10% happened among those age 40 and older. Married women account for roughly 15% of Minnesota abortions.
Most abortion patients already have children
The state data show that nearly two-thirds of women obtaining an abortion have had at least one previous live birth, with more than one-third of abortions obtained by women with two or more children.
Abortion rates are higher among Black, Indigenous and Asian women
While white residents make up more than 80% of the state population, they account for just over 40% of abortions performed in the state.
Black Minnesotans, by contrast, make up 7% of the population but account for a little less than one-third of all Minnesota abortions. That massive disparity reflects, in part, the economic inequities faced by Black Minnesotans. Low-income women are much more likely to experience an unwanted pregnancy, and Minnesota’s unusually large Black-white income and wealth disparities mean that Black women here are especially disadvantaged relative to their white peers.
Minnesotans cite economic problems, physical risks, and simply not wanting another child as reasons for getting an abortion
Among women who responded to the question, most gave not wanting a child at this time as a reason for their abortion. Over 1,000 women specifically cited economic concerns, with another 1,500 stating their abortions were due to emotional or physical health risks to themselves or to their fetus.
Roughly one-third of abortion-seekers declined to give any reason at all, reflecting the deeply private nature of an event that so often becomes fodder for public debate.
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