Characteristics of immigrants obtaining abortions and comparison with U.S.-born individuals

Sheila Desai, Guttmacher Institute Ellie Leong, Guttmacher Institute Rachel K. Jones, Guttmacher Institute

First published on Journal of Women's Health:

| DOI:
Abstract / Summary

Little information exists about individuals born outside of the United States who seek abortion services from U.S.-based providers. Baseline data are necessary to identify future changes in the profile of this population.

Materials and Methods
Using the Guttmacher Institute's Abortion Patient Survey, we pooled two national samples of individuals obtaining abortions from 2008–2009 to 2013–2014 to provide data on 17,873 respondents, 16% of whom were immigrants. We estimated the distribution of immigrant and U.S.-born respondents across demographic and circumstantial characteristics such as age, poverty level, and gestational age at abortion. We compared the distribution of characteristics by nativity status using chi-square tests.

The majority of immigrants obtaining abortions were in their 20s (51%), had poverty-level (50%) or near poverty-level incomes (23%), and had graduated from high school (78%). Almost half (45%) were uninsured and a similar proportion had been in the United States for less than 10 years (44%); nearly one-quarter completed their survey in Spanish. Compared with U.S.-born respondents, a larger proportion of immigrants were older, uninsured, and had not completed high school. A smaller proportion of immigrants compared with nonimmigrants had their abortions after 12 weeks (8% vs. 11%) or traveled over 50 miles to obtain their abortion (9% vs. 16%).

Particularly with the continued rise in both restrictive abortion and immigration policies in the United States, it is critical to monitor how immigrants' use of and access to abortion services are impacted in the changing environment. Ensuring that policies and clinical practices facilitate abortion access for immigrants will serve to better support the reproductive health needs of all women.


United States