New Report Finds Black, Older, Poor Women More Likely to Have Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 23, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Report Finds Black, Older, Poor Women More Likely to Have Abortions

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 23
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — A new report from the research group associated with Planned Parenthood expands on its previous report showing abortions at their lowest point since 1974. The new Alan Guttmacher Institute report finds abortions are more likely to be done on women who are black, older, or lower-income.

The good news for pro-life advocates is that the rate of abortion in the United States is at its lowest level since 1974, having declined 33% from a peak of 29 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 in 1980 to 20 per 1,000 in 2004.

The new report, which focuses on the trends in the abortion data, presents some concerns.

“Many Americans will welcome the news that there are fewer abortions, particularly among teens," says Sharon Camp, the president of the research group. "But at the same time, abortions are becoming more concentrated among women of color and low-income women."

Although abortion rates have declined among all racial and ethnic groups, large disparities persist, with Hispanic and black women obtaining abortions at rates three and five times higher, respectively, than non-Hispanic white women.

Between 1994 and 2004, the abortion rate for Hispanic women fell by 20% and there was a 30% decline among non-Hispanic white women. But black women saw the lowest decline — at 15 percent during the same time period.

Black women account for 37% of abortions, white women for 34%, Hispanic women 22% and women of other races 8%.

The study also found that, as compared with 1973, the typical woman obtaining an abortion today is older, more likely to have children, less likely to be married and more likely to be nonwhite. And most women obtaining abortions are poor or low-income.

Over the past three decades, the proportion of abortions obtained by teens has dropped steadily, from 33% in 1974 to 25% in 1989 to 17% in 2004. In 2004, more than half of all abortions (57%) were obtained by women in their twenties.

The trend finds women who have abortions nowadays are more likely to already have children — not because women with children have having more abortions but because the 50 percent reducation in teen abortions over the last 35 years has outpaced the reduction in abortions on women with children.

In 2004, 60% of women having abortions already had children, up from 50% in 1989 and 46% in 1974.

Although 47% of abortions are obtained by women who have had a prior abortion, the proportion of second and subsequent abortions has recently begun to fall.

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