By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
In the first comprehensive analysis since 1974 of demographic characteristics of women who have abortions, researchers found that women who already have children account for more than half all abortions.
Hispanic and black women are experiencing record numbers of abortions while the numbers have been steadily decreasing among white women and teens.
“There’s been a real change in the picture of women who get abortions,” said Rachel Jones, a senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood. “They are older, they are more likely to be unmarried, more likely to be mothers, and they are more likely to be women of color.”
Jones and her colleagues analyzed annual data collected by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and by periodic surveys Guttmacher conducted of abortion providers between 1974 and 2004.
The analysis confirmed previous reports that the abortion rate fell to the lowest level since 1974, dropping 33 percent from a peak of 29 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 in 1980 to 20 per 1,000 in 2004.
Among the biggest surprises found in the study are that women who already have children are now responsible for most abortions, accounting for 60 percent of abortions in 2004, up from 46 percent in 1974.
The abortion rate among teens is also dropping steadily. The proportion of abortions obtained by women younger than 20 dropped steadily, falling from 33 percent in 1974 to 17 percent in 2004. For those younger than 18, it fell from 15 percent of all abortions in 1974 to 6 percent in 2004.
However, at the same time, the proportion of abortions obtained by women in their 20s increased from 50 percent to 57 percent, and the number of abortions among women age 30 and older rose from 18 percent to 27 percent.
Among the more alarming findings in the study is the great disparity in the numbers between white women and black or Hispanic women who seek abortions.
In the last decade alone, the report found that the proportion of all abortions performed for white women decreased from 45 percent in 1994 to 34 percent in 2004. At the same time, the proportion for Hispanics increased from 16 percent to 22 percent and the proportion for black women rose from 35 percent to 37 percent. This makes Hispanic children three times more likely to be aborted, and black children five times more likely than white children.
“We know from other research that having lower income makes a woman more likely to get an abortion,” Jones said. “Women of color tend to be lower-income, and so in turn when confronted with an unintended pregnancy are more likely to have an abortion.”
Not everyone agrees with this theory, however. Day Gardner, founder and president of the National Black Pro-Life Union in Washington told LifeSiteNews she blames the high concentration of abortion mills that are placed in black communities for these numbers.
“It doesn’t have as much to do with poverty as that the abortion facilities are there, ingrained in the neighborhoods,” she said. “We as a community don’t talk about this. . . . This is a silent killer among us.”
The report also found that about half of all “unintended pregnancies” in America currently end in abortion.
Planned Parenthood has used the report to put out a new call for increased access to contraception for poor women, programs for which the organization already receives more than $300 million in taxpayer funding.
“Birth control is the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies,” Laurie Rubiner, vice president for public policy at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America told The Washington Post.
“Unfortunately there’s a large number of uninsured people in this country, and if you are uninsured you are less likely to have access to affordable health care, including affordable birth control.”
However, historic levels of access to birth control have done little to curb the abortion rate. In fact, studies conducted by the Guttmacher Institute over the years have consistently found that over half of all abortions are the result of “failed” contraceptive methods.
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