Myths and facts presented out of context are all too common in the U.S. abortion debate. Misinformation extends to even the most basic questions: Who are the women who obtain abortions? Why do they decide to end a pregnancy? What are their life circumstances? This video provides key statistics and places the debate in the context of closely related issues like unintended pregnancy, contraceptive use and sex education.
Who are the women who obtain abortions in the United States? You might be surprised.
Almost one out of every three American women will have an abortion by age 45.
They come from all walks of life. They are women you know.
Most women having abortions are in their 20s. Many people mistakenly believe that teens are the group most likely to have an abortion. Teens actually account for fewer than two in 10 of all abortions, and most of them are older teens —those aged 18 and 19.
Six in 10 women having abortions already have a child, and many have two or more. They know what it means to be a mother. And they often cite the need to care for their children as a primary reason for deciding not to have another right now.
Three out of four women who have abortions describe themselves as religiously affiliated. Catholic women have abortions at about the same rate as women overall.
Over the past decade, abortion has become increasingly concentrated among poor women. In 2008, more than four in 10 abortion patients had incomes below the federal poverty line. That’s a huge increase from a decade ago.
White women account for one in three abortions, more than any other group. However, women of color are disproportionately likely to have an abortion. The reason is that black and Hispanic women have much higher rates of unintended pregnancy.
These trends reflect widespread inequities in other areas. Not enough access to contraception and to quality, affordable health care. And not enough educational opportunities and good jobs.
These broad social and economic inequities must be addressed. But, at a minimum, contraception should be easy to get and use for all. And comprehensive sex education should be available to all adolescents.
But while prevention is key, there will always be women who need abortions. That’s why abortion is basic health care for women. It should be covered by private insurance plans as well as under public insurance programs, such as Medicaid.
Covering abortion under Medicaid is critical to help the poorest, most vulnerable women pay for their procedure.
Any woman who needs an abortion should be able to have one safely and with dignity.
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