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Report Indicates New Abortion Low, Affected Demographics Shift

A new report from the Guttmacher Institute indicates that national abortion rates are at an all time low since 1974, but that demographics of those seeking the procedure have changed significantly. The report (see PDF) analyzes 30 years of data since the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision and shows abortion rates have declined among white women and teenagers, but have increased among women of color and older women.

Rachel Jones, Senior Research Associate at the Guttmacher Institute told the Washington Post that “we know from other research that having [a] lower income makes a woman more likely to get an abortion. Women of color tend to be lower-income, and so in turn when confronted with an unintended pregnancy are more likely to have an abortion.” Claire Brindis, Professor of Pediatrics and Health Policy at UC San Francisco and Co-director of the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health said that women who live in poverty “experience so many other challenges in their lives that they don’t always know that they’re eligible for family planning services or have transportation to [access] services,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

Sharon Camp, Guttmacher Institute President and CEO said in a news release that “the analysis found positive trends, but highlights several issues of concern…abortions are becoming more concentrated among women of color and low-income women. This presents a clear challenge to policymakers to redouble their efforts to improve access to subsidized contraceptive services for these women…to prevent [any] unintended pregnancies behind these abortions from occurring in the first place.”

Sources:

Washington Post 9/23/08; Los Angeles Times 9/23/08; Guttmacher Institute 9/23/08