The demographics of women who have abortions vary, but on average, they are from an ethnic minority, already have children, are young, have a religious affiliation, and are in lower economic classes.
According to the Guttmacher Institute
, a think tank for reproductive rights, about half of the pregnancies among American women are unintended. Four in 10 of these end in abortion.
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In 2011, the most recent data available, U.S. abortion rates were the lowest they have been since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, but nonetheless, three in 10 women will have an abortion by the time they turn 45.
Most women who terminate their pregnancies, however, are in their 20s. The highest abortion rate — 40 abortions per 1,000 women — is among ages 20 to 24, Guttmacher said.
Though being young is common for those who have the procedure, it is more typical for women who have an abortion to already have children. Statistics show six in 10 already have a child and more than three in 10 have two or more.
More than 40 percent of abortions are to fetuses of women below the poverty level, about 52 per 1,000 females. Women in households that have an income of at least 200 percent above the poverty have a rate of nine abortions per 1,000, about half the national average.
Regionally, the abortion rate was highest in the Northeast with 27 abortions per 1,000 women in 2008. The Midwest had the smallest rate with 14 per 1,000 women.
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One of the most controversial demographics about abortion is the racial divide. More than half of procedures are performed on women who are from a racial minority. Caucasian women account for 36 percent of abortions while 30 percent are African-American and 25 percent are Hispanic, according to Guttmacher.
Some argue this is the result of a failed healthcare system while others state it unmasks coercion and inherent racism in the industry.
Perhaps most surprisingly, however, is that seven in 10 women who have had abortions cite a religious affiliation. Of those women, 37 percent consider themselves Protestant and 28 percent identify as Catholic. According to the data, Catholics have a higher rate of abortions at 22 per 1,000 women while Protestants have a rate of 15 per 1,000.
Typically several reasons are mentioned for having the procedure. Three-fourths of women say they are concerned with responsibility for other individuals, cannot afford the child, and cannot have the interference with work, school, or caring for dependents.
Most abortions — nine in 10 — occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
The American Prospect noted
these demographics seem to differ from the 1970s stereotype of white, middle-class teenagers obtaining abortions to protect their futures.
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