Black Women Have Higher Premature Birth Rates From Having More Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 2, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Black Women Have Higher Premature Birth Rates From Having More Abortions

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 2
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — A new research paper finds African-American women are at risk for higher rates of premature and extremely premature birth because they tend to have abortions at higher rates than women of other ethnicity.

Canadian researcher Brent Rooney and colleagues published the results in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

They say abortion is the "probable cause" of the high pre-term birth rate among black women because a prior induced abortion increases the risk of premature birth.

According to the new research paper, black women are three times more likely to have an early pre-term birth before 32 weeks gestation and four times more likely to have an extremely pre-term birth before 28 weeks gestation in comparison with women of other ethnic groups.

While black women represent 12.5% of American females they have 38.2% of all abortions, according to the authors.

"About 43% of pregnancies in black American women end in induced abortion. It is likely that induced abortions are an important risk factor for premature birth and that they help to explain the racial disparity," they write.

Rooney and his colleagues noted that, between 1980 and 2005, the U.S. pre-term birth rate rose 43 percent — and those years follow the tens of millions of abortions done after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

They said knowing about the abortion-premature birth link is important because "extremely premature birth infants have a 129 times higher risk of cerebral palsy compared with full-term infants" so "it is crucial to discover the causes of this disparity."

The authors also looked at the nation of Poland and found that when it limited abortions it saw its premature birth rates decrease. Poland reduced its extremely premature birth rate by 21 percent in less than a decade by severely restricting abortion and its 1997 extremely premature birth rate is 43 percent lower than that of
the United States.

"A decrease in induced abortions is likely to reduce subsequent pre-term births,
as was observed in Poland," they explain.

"The increased rate of premature birth has a serious adverse effect on
children’s health, with a disparate impact on black children," the authors conclude. "There is substantial evidence that induced abortion is an important risk factor for pre-term birth."

"It is likely that decreasing the rate of induced abortions would decrease the incidence of serious disorders such as cerebral palsy and autism, and thus that decreasing the disproportionately high induced abortion rate in black American women would decrease the disparity in high-risk infants," they write.

Karen Malec, president of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, a group that educates women on the link between abortion and breast cancer, commented on the new research paper.

"President-elect Barack Obama and other elected officials should take a lesson from Poland," she told

Along with Rooney, Dr. Byron Calhoun, the professor and vice chairman of the Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology at West Virginia University, and Lisa Roche, an attorney with the Women’s Investigative Network, conducted the study.


Rooney B, Calhoun M, Roche L. Does induced abortion account for racial disparity in pre-term births, and violate the Nuremberg Code? J Am Phys Surg . Available at:

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