Pregnancies, Births and Abortions in the United States

Final Projects, Visualization


Abortion has been a hotly contested societal phenomena in America’s landscape for the past half a decade , dividing up the census with “pro-life” advocates on one side seeking to restrict abortions availability, and “pro-choice” advocates on the other, opposing government restrictions on abortion. The US Supreme Court set precedence for the laws surrounding abortion with its landmark ruling of Roe v. Wade in 1973 with its federal legality being marred by states constructing their own abortion laws, regulating whether, when and under what circumstances a person may obtain an abortion. 50 years later, the laws have been flipped on its head again with the striking down of Row v. Wade in 2022, giving states the individual authority to make any type of abortion illegal.

The topic of abortion has been linked with the economic, political and religious undertones of the US demographic. For this project I wanted to visualize the story of abortion within the US beginning with a historical timeline of its legal status within the country. I then used the data gathered to answer some key questions regarding the impact of different economic and social factors on abortion among states and communities. Finally, I summarized all the key insights from my analysis and visualization to describe the general state and effect of abortion in the US.


The questions that I attempted to answer can be broadly divided into two categories described below. I created a table giving details of how these questions were answered and what type of visualization I made for each question:

The history
What steps lead to the ruling of Roe v. Wade in 1973?
What major incidents happened after Roe v. Wade in 1973?

Roe v Wade era
How did the abortion rates change over past 12 years (abortion rate from 2005 – 2017)
How has the teen birth rate changed over the past decade across the US? (from 2005 – 2017)
What is the status of the teen birth rate in the US currently (2020)?
How do the income and education of communities affect abortion rates?

Tools Used

  • Data that has been used here is from Data.Gov, Social Explorer, and The Open Science Framework (OSF).
  • Geolocation coordinates from Opendatasoft to use for GIS mapping purposes.
  • Microsoft Excel to organize and delete unwanted data.
  • ArcGIS, Knight Labs, and Tableau Public to create visualizations.


    The History

    To create the timeline, I used Knight Labs, an open-source tool that enables us to build an annotated, interactive timeline. My aim here was to understand the changes in abortion as a legal service from as early as 1900s to current situation that is 2020s. During my initial process, I researched and collected all the important laws and incidents that happened starting from 1910 to 2022. After that, I decided to input all the major incidents that happened in the sheets provided by the Knight Labs to publish my timeline (See below picture for reference). For aesthetics, I created some posts and edited some stock pictures that I downloaded from to portray the historical information. I was able to source a few pictures for some slides (credits given). In total I was able to create 12 slides consisting of 12 major incidents that happened regarding abortion in the history of the US. 

    Roe v Wade era

    Data Source

    I collected data from The Open Science Framework (OSF) which is an open source data repository for public research data. The dataset includes state wise pregnancy rate among women, abortion rate among women i.e. number of abortions per 1,000 women, number of miscarriages to individuals, birthrate among women and population numbers of women in the US aged 14 to 45 between 1988 to 2017 and this acts as my primary dataset for the visualizations. Through my analysis, I tried to show how the landscape changed over time for women in terms of pregnancies and abortions and drew correlations with reproductive laws and regulations and women rights. I complemented these findings with data concerning access to education and household incomes which helped confirm some of my inference. I used data of household income in 2017 state wise, population of women in the US 2017, population of women with low education (less than high school) from Social Explorer. I used Data.Gov datasets for ‘Teen Birth Rates for Age Group 15-19 in the United States by County’ to understand trends in the teen birth rates across different states and county in the US. Teen pregnancies are usually ethical grounds for abortion so I wanted to understand which state has the highest and the least birth rate and if the trends deciphered relates to abortion laws surrounding the states.


    Out of the four questions I have, 3 of them were visualized using Tableau public. For this purpose, I used various datasets mentioned above. In order to visualize my first question, How did abortion rates change over past 12 years (abortion rate from 2005 – 2017)?, I created two different visualization, the two maps show the percentage change of the abortion rate and pregnancy rate over 12 years between 2005 and 2017. Thus the visualization gave me a basic idea of change in abortion stats among states and was easy to analyze which state had the highest and lowest variation. The percentage change is basically: (abortion rate in 2017 – the abortion rate in 2005) / abortion rate in 2005 * 100)

    In order to visualize my second question, How has the teen birth rate changed over the past decade across the US? (from 2005 – 2017)? I used a simple line chart to show the number of teen births per 1000 women aged 15 – 19 from 2005 – 2017. Even though this visualization has states as a dimension, I have used only one shade of color because I wanted to mainly focus on the decline and not the state-wise number.

    To visualize my third question, What is the status of teen birth rate in the US currently? I used ArcGIS  to create a map to visualize the data. In order to match the county geolocation coordinates with the table containing all the birth rates by county, I joined the tables with an identifier which is created using the county name and the state name and using the VLOOKUP functionality in Excel I was able to get the coordinates as well as the birth rates alongside the state and county in one file.

    After this process was done, I decided to import the csv file to ArcGIS to visualize the data in the form of a map. In ArcGIS, apart from the two layers (the base map and the data), I added another Sketch layer in order to highlight the geographical area that has the highest teen birth in 2020 in the US. This is done by creating a polygon shape. I have also added another Sketch layer to add Key Points in order to show which particular counties/states have the highest teen birth rate through pin drops. I have used the Birth Rate per 1000 people as the attribute for the map, as this is the key attribute I wanted to show on the map. Pop-up messages are also messages to let the viewer know which geo points have the least and highest teen birth in the US.

    For the final question, How do income and education of communities affect abortion rates? I used multiple visualizations. I used a treemap to understand the level of low education for women (2017). I created another treemap highlighting which state has the lowest income (household income below $20,000). I also created a simple bar chart simply showing which state has the highest women population and which does not. 

    For the tableau visualization colors, I used brown-reddish color for the alarming numbers.

    Data Interpretation


    This timeline is self-explanatory. By clicking left and right we can read the important incidents that happened regarding abortion laws from 1910 to 2022. To view the visualization, please click on the timeline

    Roe v Wade era

    Before Roe v Wade was overturned in 2022, there were several factors that affected abortion regulations. In the southern and midwestern states, anti abortion groups and conservative leaders who are against abortion make it extremely hard to get access to the safe abortion procedures by incorporating laws such as the law prohibiting abortions after cardiac activity can be detected by ultrasound, around six weeks gestation , known as the ‘Heartbeat Bill’. Other factors include defunding of Planned Parenthood in many states , which effectively puts a stop to services regardless of how many clinics are open in the state. All this combined with general religious and societal stigma revolving abortion taught to the youth results in detriment to the progress made in reproductive healthcare. For the visualization please click on the dashboard.

    How did the abortion rates change over past 12 years (abortion rate from 2005 – 2017)

    From the above graph, it is evident that abortion rates have generally declined and this could be several reasons. From lifestyle changes to advancing the medical field such as Food and Drug Administration-approved mifepristone, for nonsurgical abortion. According to, medication abortions accounted for 39% of all abortions in 2017, up from 29% in 2014. 

    Now, if you take states such as Texas and Iowa for change in abortion as seen in the picture, (Texas % change in abortion rate: -44.12%, Iowa % change in abortion rate: -40.38%) we can see that these are the states that has seen the largest decrease in abortion rates over the years. These two states has always been very restrictive about abortion laws so this makes sense. According to, the number of clinics increased in the Northeast (by 16%) and the West (by 4%) and decreased in the Midwest (by 6%) and the South (by 9%). 

    Comparing with the pregnancy rate, North Dakota and South Dakota have seen the least reduction in pregnancy rates by 2017 (North Dakota pregnancy rate: 11.72, South Dakota pregnancy rate: -0.62) but have also seen a minimal change in abortion rates as well (North Dakota % change in abortion rate: -4.35%, South Dakota in abortion rate: -26.56%)

    What is the status of the teen birth rate in the US currently (2020)?

    From the visualization it is clear that the highest birth rates among teenagers , highlighted in the polygon shape, is happening in Southern states such as Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and South Dakota. Some of the counties that has highest birth rates are, Todd (South Dakota) – 81.30, Jackson (South Dakota) – 78.90, Crockett (Texas) – 62.90, Throckmorton (Texas) – 61.00. The states with least teen birth rates are Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Some of the counties that have the lowest birth rates are, Hampshire (Massachusetts) – 1.30, Norfolk (Massachusetts) – 1.60, Hunterdon (New Jersey) – 1.80, Centre (Pennsylvania) –  2.00.

    The lowest birth rates among teenagers are in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania
    Highlighted in the polygon shape, the highest birth rates among teenagers happened in Southern states such as Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota

    According to the Center For Reproductive Rights, currently in 2022 after Roe v Wade was overturned, the states that have completely banned abortions are Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, South Dakota and other states as well. Some of the states that have not banned abortions are New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Data clearly indicates that these are the states that have either always supported or made it extremely hard for the people to get access to the abortions. Teen pregnancy and childbearing are associated with increased social and economic costs with immediate and long-term effects on teen parents and their children. Pregnancy and birth are significant contributors to high school dropout rates among girls. Only about 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by 22 years of age, whereas approximately 90% of women who do not give birth during adolescence graduate from high school (Data source: click here). For the map visualization, please click on ArcGis button.

    How has the teen birth rate changed over the past decade across the US? (from 2005 – 2017)

    As you can see, overall the teen birth rate has declined over the 12 years. According to the, the teen birth rate has been on a steep decline since the early 1990s, and that trend accelerated after the onset of the Great Recession in 2007. This could be the reason of several factors including less sexual activity in that age group, use of more effective contraception and more information about pregnancy prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis of the roughly 600,000 low-income teens aged 15 –19 Years who used the Title X National Family Planning Program for contraception found that the use of long-acting reversible contraceptives such as IUDs and implants – which are considered more effective than other means of contraception – rose from 0.4% in 2005 to 7.1% by 2013.

    How do income and education of communities affect abortion rates?

    From the graph of the total female population aged more than 15 years, we can see that Texas and California have the highest population.

    Now, when we look at the households having income lesser than $20,000 in 2017, we can see that California and Texas have the highest.

    The third graph shows that the female population with an education level less than high school, again Texas and California top the list among the states.

    However the difference in abortion reduction rates between California and Texas is only -6% (California : -38.49% and Texas: – 44.12%), a minor difference compared to the 5 million surplus of California women population.

    Also, New Mexico shows a higher abortion rate compared to Texas even though Texas has more than 11 times the female population (Population – New Mexico: 857,801, Texas: 11,235,141) indicating New Mexico has many liberal laws and Texas has very strict laws regarding abortion. Owing to the states being neighbors, it’s also possible that many of the unreported abortions from Texas happen in New Mexico territory.


    From my analysis, I’ve been able to conclude that the mentality and freedom states instill in its residents have long standing effects on the reproductive health of its youth. Even prior to the pullback of Roe v Wade, it’s apparent that some southern and midwestern states were always opposed to the concept of legal abortions. Laws and regulations have been systematically put into place over decades to ensure the futility of abortion service seekers which also reflects the attitude of the state governments concerning protecting childrens health and their futures. 

    After getting an idea of which states have the highest and lowest teen births, and about the abortion rate change over the 12 years I would like further get deep into how healthcare access affects the abortion rate in the US. I would further like to investigate the state budget used on abortion facilities and clinics for the people in the US.