Abortion Rates in U.S. Drop, Except for Poor Women

Abortion is in the news again (shocker). According to TIME, the U.S. abortion rate has dropped overall, except among poor women:

Between 2000 and 2008, abortions among American women aged 15 to 44 fell 8%, reaching a low of 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women. The decline applied to most groups: notably, the abortion rate declined 18% among African American women over that time period and 22% among teens aged 15 to 17.

However, women living in profound poverty were the one exception. Women whose incomes fell below the federal poverty level ($10,830 for a single woman with no children) accounted for 42% of all abortions in 2008. Between 2000 and 2008, the abortion rate among the lowest-income women climbed from 44 to 53 abortions per 1,000 women — an increase of 18% overall.

Why do poorer women seem to be bucking the trend? Well, it doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out it’s likely because economic hardships limit women’s access to contraception, including emergency contraception, which leads to more unintended pregnancies. And it logically follows that for those living below the poverty line, abortion is a necessary alternative to expanding one’s family.

Cue the anti-choice cries that abortion “targets” the poor and people of color. Whomp, whomp. It’s more like the poor and people of color are on the receiving end of the capitalist, economic shaft. Which is why so many pro-choice advocates are in favor of taxpayer funding for abortion services — and contraception. Forced motherhood for those with reduced economic opportunities only breeds a cycle of more poverty and hardships.

And apparently, not only do the costs associated with unintended pregnancies fall on the backs of the poor, but also on taxpayers:

At the national level, the current costs to taxpayers of unintended pregnancy — including births, abortions, miscarriages and infant medical care — reach $9.6 to $12.6 billion per year, according to a study by the Brookings Institution Center on Children and Families. At the state level, the annual costs are similar, about $11 billion, according to a study by Sonfield.

Call me crazy, but the solution doesn’t seem to be further reducing access to abortion or family planning services, but rather investing in underserved communities.


Categories: Health

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