Minority women disproportionately abort even as overall rate declines, study says

ppalvedafeto240908 Dr. Alveda King

A study of abortion trends in the U.S. claims that the abortion rate is now at its lowest level since 1974, though minority groups did see as large of a drop in abortions. One critic of the study suggests it ignores both the “purposeful” placement of abortion clinics in African-American areas and the manner in which abortion is promoted to black women.

The Allan Guttmacher Institute’s study “Trends in the Characteristics of Women Obtaining Abortions, 1974 to 2004” reports that the abortion rate has declined from its 1980 peak of 29 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 to 20 per 1,000 in 2004, a decline of about 33 percent.

According to a statement on the Allan Guttmacher Institute’s website, the study reports marked differences between ethnic groups. Between 1994 and 2004 the abortion rate for non-Hispanic white women declined 30 percent from 15 to 11 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, while among Hispanics the abortion rate fell by 20 percent from 35 to 28 abortions per 1,000 women in the same age group.

The abortion rate among black women was also found to be disproportionate to the general population. Though their abortion rate declined between 1994 and 2004, it declined by only 15 percent from 59 to 50 abortions per 1,000 women.

Women in their twenties obtained about 58 percent of all 2004 abortions.

The proportion of abortions obtained by teens has declined from 33% in 1974 to 25% in 1989 to 17% in 2004. The abortion rate among teens has also fallen from 42 per 1,000 women aged 15-19 in 1989 to 20 per 1,000 in 2004.

The Guttmacher Institute, which was formerly associated with Planned Parenthood, attributed the decline to increased use of contraceptives and use of more effective contraceptive methods.

According to the report, 89 percent of abortions take place in the first trimester. About 28 percent of abortions in 2004 take place at seven weeks into a pregnancy or earlier, compared to 16 percent in 1994.

The Guttmacher Institute attributes the increase of early abortions to the “increased availability and use of home pregnancy detection kits, greater availability of early surgical procedures and increasing use of medication abortion.”

In 2004, 60 percent of women having abortions already had children, up from 50 percent in 1989 and 46 percent in 1974. According to the Guttmacher Institute, such women cite responsibility for their born children and their families as one of their primary reasons for obtaining an abortion.

“The analysis found positive trends, but highlights several issues of concern,” said Guttmacher Institute president and CEO Sharon Camp. “Many Americans will welcome the news that there are fewer abortions, particularly among teens, and that a larger proportion of abortions are now happening very early in pregnancy. But at the same time, abortions are becoming more concentrated among women of color and low-income women.”

Camp called for better access to subsidized contraceptive services, claiming that would prevent “unintended pregnancies.”

CNA discussed the study in a Wednesday phone interview with Dr. Alveda King, niece of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a pastoral associate for Priests for Life.

King said people “may miss the implications” from the raw data.

“You’ve got raw data that shows the abortion rate has declined among women, but there’s a disparate rate among African-American women,” she noted.

“The question should be ‘why?’

“The answer is that the abortion clinics are present at a much higher rate in African-American communities.

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“Abortion is pitched to black women as therapeutic and so black women are still having more abortions, and that information is not readily apparent in a study like Guttmacher’s.”

Dr. King referenced a recent study presented by Students for Life of America at the Family Research Council value voters meeting in September, saying it considers why abortion targets minorities.

She also noted that Students For Life president Lila Rose has done undercover reporting exposing Planned Parenthood fundraisers’ acceptance of racially-motivated donations and some Planned Parenthood employees’ willingness to cover up alleged incidents of statutory rape which result in pregnancy.

CNA asked Dr. King how the abortion rate could be reduced.

“We have to inform women and inform families about the harmful effects of abortion, we must promote abstinence, and certainly those actions will reduce the abortion rate,” she said.

When CNA asked Dr. King if there was anything to be done to reduce the abortion rate among the African-American community specifically, she explained it “doesn’t matter what color they [the aborted babies] are, but 14 -15 million of them are black, and that’s on purpose.”

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