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A new report form the Alan Guttmacher Institute provides wide ranging statistics and demographic information on women who had abortions.

In addition to reporting that [surgical] 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.

The report placed great emphasis on the fact that 48 percent of 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 indicates that 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 reveals that women choose abortion overwhelmingly for reasons other than health, or for extreme reasons. Only four percent 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 [surgical]abortions took place in the United States in 2001 – 0.8% fewer than the 1,313,000 in 2000. In 2002, the number of [surgical] 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."
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