1 Education, Residence, and Income Of the women obtaining abortions in 2000: 57% had some college education; 88% were from metropolitan areas; and Women Who Have Abortions 4 . 57% percent were low-income Unintended Pregnancy Marital Status Each year, almost half of all pregnancies among American 1 Most women getting abortions (83%) are unmarried; 67% . About half of these unplanned women are unintended 1,2 have never married, and 16% are separated, divorced, or pregnancies, 1.3 million each year, are ended by abortion . 4 widowed . Married women are significantly less likely than There are many myths and misconceptions about who gets unmarried women to resolve unintended pregnancies 6 abortions, and why. The fact is that the women who have through abortion . abortions come from all racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and Religion religious backgrounds. If current rates continue, it is estimated that 35% of all women of reproductive age in Women who obtain abortions represent every religious abortion by the time they America today will have had an 3 affiliation. 13% of abortion pa tients describe themselves as reach the age of 45 . 4 ; while 22% of U.S. born-again or Evangelical Christians 7 women are Catholic , 27% of abortion patients say they are Measuring the Incidence of Abortion 1 Catholics . The incidence of abortion can be tracked in two different MYTH: Women are using abortion as a method of birth ways. The first is simply to keep a tally of the total number control. of abortions obtained by women who fall into specified categories. Numbers tracked in this way are usually In fact, half of all women getting abortions report that expressed as a percentage of all abortions provided in a year. contraception was used during the month they became Alternatively, the rate of abortion can be measured by 1 pregnant . Some of these couples had used the method calculating the total number of abortions obtained per 1,000 improperly; some had forgotten or neglected to use it on the women who make up the total population in each category. particular occasion they conceived; and some had used a Age contraceptive that failed. No contraceptive method prevents pregnancy 100% of the time. Women between the ages of 15 and 19 account for about 19% of all abortions; women 20 to 24 account for another If abortion were used as a primary method of birth control, a 33%; and about 25% of abortions are obtained by women typical woman would have at least two or three pregnancies 4 who are 30 or older . Calculating abortion rates, older per year -- 30 or more during her lifetime. teenagers and young adults have the highest abortion rates, while women younger than 15 and older than 35 have the In fact, most women who have abortions have had no 4 lowest . previous abortions (52%) or only one previous abortion 5 (26%) . Considering that most women are fertile for over 30 Length of Pregnancy years, and that birth control is not perfect, the likelihood of having one or two unintended pregnancies is very high. Most abortions (88%) are obtained in the first trimester of pregnancy. In fact, over half of all abortions are obtained within the first 8 weeks. Fewer than 2% occur at 21 weeks or 5 later .
2 abortion adjustment are those who do not get the support MYTH: Women have abortions for selfish or frivolous they need, or whose abortion decisions are actively opposed reasons. 10 by people who are important to them . Learn more about The decision to have an abor tion is rarely simple. Most post-abortion issues at http://www.prochoice.org/about_ women base their decision on several factors, the most abortion_issues.html abortion/facts/post_ common being lack of money and/or unreadiness to start or expand their families due to existing responsibilities. Many References feel that the most responsible course of action is to wait until 1 Alan Guttmacher Institute. Facts in Brief - Induced Abortion. 2003. http://www.agi-usa.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html their situation is more suited to childrearing; 66% plan to 2 Finer LB and Henshaw SK. Abortion incidence and services in have children when they are older, financially able to provide the United States in 2000. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive necessities for them, and/or in a supportive relationship with Health 2003; 35: 6-15. 8 a partner so their children will have two parents . Others 3 Alan Guttmacher Institute. State Facts About Abortion. 2003. wanted to get pregnant but developed serious medical http://www.agi-usa.org/pubs/sfaa.html 4 Jones RK, Darroch JE, Henshaw SK. Patterns in the problems, learned that the fetus had severe abnormalities, or socioeconomic characteristics of women obtaining abortions in experienced some other personal crisis. About 13,000 2000-2001. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 2002; women each year have abortions because they have become 34: 226-235. 1 pregnant as a result of rape or incest . 5 Elam-Evans LD, Strauss LT, Herndon J, Parker WY, Whitehead S, Berg CJ. Abortion surveillance-United States, 1999. Report 2002; 51 (SS09): 1-28. Morbidity Mortality Weekly Women are often forced into having abortions they MYTH: review/mmwrhtml/ss5109a1.htm http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/p do not really want. 6 Henshaw SK. Unintended pregnancy in the United States. Family Planning Perspectives 1998; 30(1): 24-29 & 46. Some women say that pressure from a husband, partner, or 7 personal communication Archdiocese of Washington (based on statistics in the 2003 edition of The Kenedy Directory: The parent was one of several reasons they chose abortion, but Official Catholic Directory). only about 1% give that reason as the "most important" one 8 Henshaw SK and Kost K. Abortion patients in 1994-1995: 9 in making their decision . Conversely, some women who do e. Family Planning Perspectives Characteristics and contraceptive us 1996; 28(4): 140-147 &158. not want to continue their pregnancies are pressured to do so 9 Torres A, Forrest JD. Why do women have abortions? Family by family members, friends, or fear of social stigma. Pre- Planning Perspectives 1988; 20(4): 169-176. abortion options counseling is designed to determine 10 Psychological Responses Following Abortion. Reproductive whether a woman is fully comfortable with her abortion Choice and Abortion: A Resource Packet. Washington, DC: decision, and if she is not, she is encouraged to wait until she American Pyschological Association, 1990. has had a chance to consider her options more fully. Statistical information in this fact sheet is based on research by the Alan Guttmacher Institute and other members of the National MYTH: Many women come to regret their abortions later. Abortion Federation. For More Information For information or referrals to qualified abortion providers, call the Research indicates that relief is the most common emotional National Abortion Federation's toll-free hotline: 1-800-772-9100. response following abortion, and that psychological distress Weekdays: 8:00A.M.- 9:00P.M. appears to be greatest before, rather than after, an abortion. Saturdays: 9:00A.M.- 5:00P.M. Eastern time . There are undoubtedly some women who, in hindsight, wish National Abortion Federation that they had made different choices, and the majority would 1660 L Street NW, Suite 450 prefer never to have become pregnant when the Washington, DC 20036 circumstances were not right for them. When a wanted 202-667-5881 pregnancy is ended (for medical reasons, for example) www.prochoice.org loss and grief. As with any women may experience a sense of Writers: Susan Dudley, PhD major change or decision involving loss, a crisis later in life Copyright© 1996, National Abortion Federation sometimes leads to a temporary resurfacing of sad feelings Revised 2003. surrounding the abortion. Women at risk for poor post-