Abortion Rate Declines in U.S. But Increases for Poor Women

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 24, 2011   |   10:32AM   |   Washington, DC

A new study reported in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology indicates the abortion rate has decreased in the United States — good news because it means more pregnant women are opting against having an abortion.

However, the report presents news that should spark a drive to help more women below the poverty level find pregnancy resources and support because it indicates poor women are having abortions at a higher rate than before.

The new report was published by the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion research group formerly affiliated with the Planned Parenthood abortion business. Despite its pro-abortion bent, the organization is thought by pro-life groups to publish fairly accurate abortion figures because it obtains the numbers directly from abortion businesses.

According to Guttmacher, poor women accounted for 42% of all abortions in 2008, and their abortion rate increased 18% between 2000 and 2008, from 44.4 to 52.2 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44. In comparison, the national abortion rate for 2008 was 19.6 per 1,000, reflecting an 8% decline from a rate of 21.3 in 2000.

The study also found that teen abortion rates declined 22%, from 14.6 per 1,000 in 2000 to 11.3 per 1,000 in 2008 among those aged 15–17. This age-group accounted for a small proportion of abortions (6%).

The research also validates the work pro-life groups have done to reach out to the black community, because of the tremendously high abortion rates in that ethnic group. Abortion rates decreased 18% among African American women in the same period, the largest decline among the four racial and ethnic groups examined by Guttmacher. Notwithstanding this decline, the abortion rate among African American women is still higher than the rate for both Hispanic and non-Hispanic white women: 40.2 per 1,000, compared with 28.7 and 11.5, respectively.

The study also shows abortion continues to become commonplace in the United States as it estimates that 10 percent of all women of reproductive age will have an abortion by age 20, one-quarter by age 30 and nearly one-third by age 45. Fortunately, the proportion of women estimated to have an abortion in their lifetime (by age 45) has been declining, from 43% in 1992 to 30% in 2008, as the overall abortion rate has declined.

The lead author of the study suggests the increase in the abortion rate for poor women came because of the downturn in the economy and she suggests more access to contraception — even though prior studies from Guttmacher confirm more than half of women who get abortions were using contraception at the time.

“That abortion is becoming increasingly concentrated among poor women suggests the need for better contraceptive access and family planning counseling. It certainly appears these women are being underserved,” says study author Rachel K. Jones.

Jones blamed pro-life legislation cutting taxpayer funding for abortions as resulting in the increased abortion rates for black women, even though studies have shown cutting tax-funded abortions is most responsible for reducing the number of abortions.

The authors analyzed data from the Guttmacher Institute’s 2008 Abortion Patient Survey, Current Population Surveys for 2008 and 2009, and the 2006–2008 National Survey of Family Growth to estimate abortion rates by subgroups and lifetime incidence of abortion.

“Changes in Abortion Rates Between 2000 and 2008 and Lifetime Incidence of Abortion,” by Rachel K. Jones and Megan L. Kavanaugh, appears in the June issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.