Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Times They are a-Changing

Last week the Guttmacher Institute released their newest study, "Characteristics of U.S. Abortion Patients, 2008." The study provides an interesting overview of how various abortion rates have changed since 2000.

The statistical percentages in the report are based on women seeking abortion care, not on total women in the U.S. Some stats haven't changed too much. Women 20-24 still have the highest share of abortion procedures at 33.4%, as do women who have never been married at 45%. There has been some shift in race and ethnicity stats. The share of procedures obtained by non-Hispanic, white women decreased from 40.9% to 36.1% while the share for Hispanic women increased from 20.1% to 24.9%. Of all the statistical changes, what stands out most to me is the economic status. The proportion of abortion patients living under the federal poverty line increased from 26.6% to 42.4%.[1]

Almost half of all women obtaining abortion care live under the federal poverty line. I am amazed at this statistic, and I work all the time with women who can't afford their abortion and don't have health insurance. As the economy declines further, we must worry that this number will continue to rise. We should all be worried about what this means for women and their access to safe, affordable health care.

In 2008, 57% of women had to pay out of pocket for their abortions and 13% received "financial assistance" (read: grassroots abortion funds' donations). Amazingly, 20% received abortions paid for by Medicaid and 12% by private insurance.[2] No doubt these numbers could change if the national and state governments get their way. With many politicians pushing spending cuts and a recent national health care bill that isn't too friendly toward abortion care, what does the future hold for these numbers? It seems a real possibility that the women included under Medicaid and private health insurance could be forced into the out-of-pocket and abortion-fund categories. What does this mean for already cash-strapped abortion funds? What does this mean for women?

What will happen is that more women will have to push back their appointments, increasing their prices and complicating their ability to get to their appointments. More women will have to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. More women will be forced deeper into poverty.

I wonder if this is just a sign of the current times or is telling of more to come.

[1] Jones RK, Finer LB and Singh S. Characteristics of U.S. Abortion Patients, 2008. New York: Guttmacher Institute, May 2010: 6.

[2] Jones RK, Finer LB and Singh S. Characteristics of U.S. Abortion Patients, 2008. New York: Guttmacher Institute, May 2010: 10.


  1. But hey, these stupid right wing religious nut jobs have no problem letting them starve or live in squalor once born. Again, the antis are only about controlling others' lives and taking away their power to make personal decisions.

  2. True, Bob. If many women are getting abortions on economic grounds, obviously one way to reduce abortion would be better social services and more money to the poor, but "pro-lifers" would rather just make women more miserable. True colors.


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