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Women Face Growing Disparities in Family Planning

A new study published in June shows marked disparities in rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion among women of different socioeconomic backgrounds. The study (PDF), published by the Guttmacher Institute, shows that women below the poverty line and women without high school diplomas have fallen behind their more affluent, college-educated peers in their capacity to plan pregnancy.

As a whole, the nation’s rate of unintended pregnancies remained nearly the same from 1994 to 2001, the years of the study, but the rate of unintended pregnancy among poor women increased by 29 percent, while women who made twice as much or more money experienced a decrease in unintended pregnancies by 20 percent. Poor women’s rate of unintended births, associated with increased risk of detrimental prenatal behaviors and negative health and social outcomes for both mother and child, increased by 44 percent.

In addition, lower income women are twice as likely as women overall to have no health insurance. The growing disparity coincides with federal funding cuts for family planning services, such as Title X funding. The study encourages policy-makers to help women plan pregnancies by improving access to contraceptives among high-risk groups.

Sources:

Media Resources: Disparities in Rates of Unintended Pregnancy in the United States, 1994 and 2001, from Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, Guttmacher Institute, June 2006