Abortion Patients in 1994-1995: Characteristics and Contraceptive Use

Stanley K. Henshaw Kathryn Kost, Guttmacher Institute

First published online:

Abstract / Summary

Results of a 1994-1995 national survey of 9,985 abortion patients reveal that women who live with a partner outside marriage or have no religious identification are 3.5-4.0 times as likely as women in the general population to have an abortion. Nonwhites, women aged 18-24, Hispanics, separated and never-married women, and those who have an annual income of less than $15,000 or who are enrolled in Medicaid are 1.6-2.2 times as likely to do so; residents of metropolitan counties have a slightly elevated likelihood of abortion. When age is controlled, women who have had a live birth are more likely to have an abortion than are those who have never had children. Catholics are as likely as women in the general population to have an abortion, while Protestants are only 69% as likely and Evangelical or born-again Christians are only 39% as likely. Since 1987, the proportion of abortions obtained by Hispanic women and the abortion rate among Hispanics relative to that for other ethnic groups have increased. The proportion of abortion patients who had been using a contraceptive during the month they became pregnant rose from 51% in 1987 to 58%. Nonuse is most common among women with low education and income, blacks, Hispanics, unemployed women and those who want more children. The proportion of abortion patients whose pregnancy is attributable to condom failure has increased from 15% to 32%, while the proportions reporting the failure of other barrier methods and spermicides have decreased.

(Family Planning Perspectives, 28:140-147 & 158, 1996)

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