A report form the Alan Guttmacher Institute provides wide ranging
statistics and demographic information on women who had abortions.
In addition to reporting that abortion numbers continued to drop in 2001 and 2002, the report contains findings that may bolster arguments made by social conservatives on several different issues, including one finding that would indicate contraceptive use may not stop unplanned pregnancies.
The Alan Guttmacher Institute is the research arm of Planned Parenthood and openly supports abortion and widespread access to contraceptives.
Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States
INCIDENCE OF ABORTION
Nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended, and four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion. Twenty-four percent of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion.
In 2002, 1.29 million abortions took place, down from 1.36 million in 1996. From 1973 through 2002, more than 42 million legal abortions occurred.
Each year, two out of every 100 women aged 15–44 have an abortion; 48% of them have had at least one previous abortion.
WHO HAS ABORTIONS
Black women are almost four times as likely as white women to have an abortion, and Hispanic women are 2.5 times as likely.
Forty-three percent of women obtaining abortions identify themselves as Protestant, and 27% as Catholic.
On average, women give four reasons for choosing abortion. Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.
PROVIDERS AND SERVICES
Thirty-seven percent of providers offer abortion at four weeks’ gestation, and 97% offer abortion at eight weeks. Thirty-three percent offer abortion at 20 weeks, after which the number of providers offering abortion services drops off sharply. Only 2% of all abortion providers provide abortions at 26 weeks’ gestation.
The proportion of providers offering very early abortion (at four weeks’ gestation) increased from 7% in 1993 to 37% in 2001.
In 2001, the cost of a nonhospital abortion with local anesthesia at 10 weeks’ gestation ranged from $150 to $4,000, and the average amount paid was $372.
Fifty-four percent of women having abortions used a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant. Among those women, 76% of pill users and 49% of condom users reported using their method inconsistently, while 13% of pill users and 14% of condom users reported correct use.
LAW AND POLICY
In the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the Supreme Court ruled that women, in consultation with their physician, have a constitutionally protected right to have an abortion in the early stages of pregnancy—that is, before viability—free from government interference.
In 1992, the Court reaffirmed the right to abortion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. However, the ruling significantly weakened the legal protections previously afforded women and physicians by giving states the right to enact restrictions that do not create an "undue burden" for women seeking abortion.
Thirty-four states currently enforce parental consent or notification laws for minors seeking an abortion. The Supreme Court ruled that minors must have an alternative, such as the ability to seek a court order authorizing the procedure.
Even without specific parental involvement laws, six in 10 minors who have an abortion report that at least one parent knew about their procedure.
Congress has barred the use of federal Medicaid funds to pay for abortions, except when the woman's life would be endangered by a full-term pregnancy or in cases of rape or incest.
Seventeen states do use public funds to pay for abortions for some poor women, but only four do so voluntarily; the rest do so under a court order. About 13% of all abortions in the United States are paid for with public funds (virtually all from state governments).
Family planning clinics funded under Title X of the federal Public Health Service Act have helped women prevent 20 million unintended pregnancies over the last 20 years. An estimated nine million of these pregnancies would have been expected to end in abortion.
1. Finer LB et al., Disparities in unintended pregnancy in the United States, 1994 and 2001, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2006, 38(2):90–96.
2. Finer LB and Henshaw SK, Estimates of U.S. abortion incidence in 2001 and 2002, The Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI), 2005, <http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/2005/05/18/ab_incidence.pdf>, accessed May 17, 2005.
4. Jones RK, Darroch JE and Henshaw SK, Patterns in the socioeconomic characteristics of women obtaining abortions in 2000–2001, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2002, 34(5):226–235.
5. Henshaw SK, Unintended pregnancy in the United States, Family Planning Perspectives, 1998, 30(1):24–29 & 46; and AGI, State facts about abortion: Texas, <http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/sfaa/texas.html>, accessed Feb. 16, 2006.
6. Jones RK, Darroch JE and Henshaw SK, 2002, op. cit. (see reference 4).
12. Finer LB et al., Reasons U.S. women have abortions: quantitative and qualitative perspectives, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2005, 37(3):110–118.
13. Jones RK, Darroch JE and Henshaw SK, Contraceptive use among U.S. women having abortions in 2000–2001, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2002, 34(6):294–303.
16. Finer LB et al., 2006, op. cit. (see reference 1).
17. Ibid.; and Mosher WD et al., Use of contraception and use of family planning services in the United States: 1982–2002, Advance Data from Vital and Health Statistics, 2004, No. 350, pp. 1 and 21.
18. Finer LB and Henshaw SK, Abortion incidence and services in the United States in 2000, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2003, 35(1):6–15.
19. Henshaw SK and Finer LB, The accessibility of abortion services in the United States, 2001, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2003, 35(1):16–24.
23. Boonstra H et al., Abortion in Women’s Lives, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2006.
24. Henshaw SK, Unintended pregnancy and abortion: a public health perspective, in: Paul M et al., eds., A Clinician’s Guide to Medical and Surgical Abortion, New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1999, pp. 11–22.
25. Boonstra H et al., 2006, op. cit. (see reference 23).
28. Bartlett LA et al., Risk factors for legal induced abortion-related mortality in the United States, 2004, Obstetrics and Gynecology, 103(4):729–737.
29. Grimes DA, Estimation of prgnancy-related mortality risk by pregnancy outcome, United States, 1991 to 1999, American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2006, 194(1):92–94.
30. Finer LB et al., Timing of steps and reasons for delays in obtaining abortions in the United States, Contraception, 2006 (forthcoming).
31. Strauss LT et al., Abortion surveillance—United States, 2002, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Surveillance Summaries, 2005, 54(SS-7), p. 30, Table 16.
32. Guttmacher Institute, Parental involvement, State Policies in Brief, April 2006, <http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_PIMA.pdf>, accessed Apr. 28, 2006.
33.Henshaw SK and Kost K, Parental involvement in minors' abortion decisions, Family Planning Perspectives, 1992, 24(5):196–207 & 213.
34. Guttmacher Institute, State funding of abortion under Medicaid, State Policies in Brief, April 2006, <http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_SFAM.pdf>, accessed Apr. 28, 2006.
35. Henshaw SK and Finer LB, 2003, op. cit. (see reference 19).
36. AGI, Fulfilling the Promise: Public Funding and U.S. Family Planning Clinics, New York: AGI, 2000.
*The poverty guidelines are updated periodically in the Federal Register by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the authority of 42 USC 9902(2) (http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/05poverty.shtml).
Another report placed great emphasis on the fact that 48 percent of all pregnancies in the US are unplanned. Of those unplanned pregnancies, 47 percent end in abortion, 40 percent are carried to full term and 13 percent end in miscarriage.
Advocates of abortion often argue that to decrease abortions,
unintended pregnancies must be reduced through increased access to
contraceptives. But the Guttmacher Institute's research clearly indicates in this and other reports that over 53 percent of women who have unintended pregnancies used a contraceptive method during the month they got pregnant.
The data also indicates that marriage plays a unique role as a
protector of the unborn. According to the report, "Married women account for a lower proportion of abortions (17%), in part because they have low rates of unintended pregnancy," but even in cases of unintended pregnancies, married women "are more likely than unmarried women to continue the pregnancy."
And cohabitation is not an adequate substitute for marriage.
"About 25% of abortions occur among women living with a male partner to whom they are not married, although such women make up only about 10% of all women aged 15-44."
The report also rev
eals that women choose abortion overwhelmingly for
reasons other than health, or for extreme reasons.
Only four percent (4%) of abortions are obtained as a result of rape, incest or for the health of the mother.
Twenty-one percent of women said inadequate finances were the chief
reason for their abortion; 21 percent said they were not ready for the
responsibility; 16 percent said life would change too much; 12 percent said either they had problems with their relationship or were unmarried; 11 percent said they were too young; and eight percent said they already had all the children they wanted.
The numbers also confirm that abortion disproportionately affects
minorities, especially blacks. In 2002, black women had 409,000 abortions accounting for 32 percent of all abortions. African-Americans make up 12 percent of the population. According to the report, black women "are more likely to resolve an unintended pregnancy through abortion."
Hispanics accounted for 20 percent of all abortions in 2002 though they make up 13 percent of the US population.
Analysis by the Guttmacher Institute "estimates that 1,303,000
abortions took place in the United States in 2001 – 0.8% fewer than the 1,313,000 in 2000. In 2002, the number of abortions declined again, to 1,293,000, or another 0.8%.
"The rate of abortion also declined, from 21.3 procedures per 1,000 women aged 15-44 in 2000 to 21.1 in 2001 and 20.9 in 2002."
[http://www.agi-usa.org/presentations/ab_slides.html; Culture & Cosmos Volume 2 Number 51 | July 26, 2005, Copyright 2005—Culture of Life Foundation. Permission granted for unlimited use. Credit required] http://www.culture-of-life.org]
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