AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN AND ABORTION
of all reproductive ages, socioeconomic and marital status,
and racial and ethnic groups have abortions. African American
women account for a significant number of those electing
abortions. Women seek abortions for a variety of reasons. An
unintended birth can have a serious impact on women and their
families, posing financial and emotional hardships. Lack of
social support from a partner or family members may also be a
factor. A young woman may decide that she is too young to take
on the responsibility of parenting, which can delay
educational attainment and employment opportunities. The
health of the woman and/or the health of fetus may also be a
deciding factor. In cases of rape or incest, abortion may be
considered the best option.
Project supports a woman’s right to make decisions about if
and when she will have children. The right to an abortion is
constitutionally protected and continues to be an integral
issue for Black women’s reproductive health and rights. Safe
and legal abortions should be an option for all women.
the approximately 3.04 million unintended pregnancies each
year, 47% end in abortion. American women have an abortion
rate two times higher than other Western democracies.
Forty-three percent of American women will have at least one
abortion by age 45.
who are most likely to have an abortion are Black women aged
18-24 who are either separated or unmarried and have an annual
income of less than $15,000, or have Medicaid. These women are
twice as likely to have abortions compared to the general
of color are approximately twice as likely to have an abortion
as White women.
the unplanned pregnancies that end in abortion, there has been
in increase among women aged 20 and older. Rates among
teenagers have decreased; they are more likely than older
women to continue an unplanned pregnancy.
percent of women have abortions in the first trimester; 50%
are performed in the first eight weeks of pregnancy.
Approximately .01% occur after 24 weeks.
has a greater risk of death than abortion. Less than 1% of
individuals experience major complications with abortions.
Impacting Access to Abortions
is a factor for poor women as the average cost of an abortion
is $275 and can go as high as $1,000 depending on gestational
age. Many women pay out of pocket for this procedure, as
insurance providers may not cover the service. In addition, a
woman’s confidentiality may be compromised if insurance is
utilized for this purpose.
funding of abortion is primarily supported through state
funding and few states allow abortion funding. Federal monies,
i.e., Medicaid, cannot be used to finance an abortion unless a
woman’s life is in danger or if the pregnancy resulted from
incest or rape.
some states, women under 18 are precluded from abortion
without parental consent or notice.
is the only medical procedure that has a “conscience
clause” which gives medical providers the ability to omit
discussions about abortion options if they so choose.
states ban abortion in public facilities. In addition, the
merging of hospital systems with religious-based hospital
systems may also limit abortion services to women.
factors associated with the abortion facility such as violent
attacks on abortion clinics and public protests place the
lives of women and clinic personnel in danger. Since 1977,
there have been approximately 2,100 reported instances of
violence against abortion providers including six murders and
15 attempted murders.
is a shortage of abortion providers. Eighty-four percent of
all U.S. counties and 94% of all rural U.S. counties have no
abortion provider. Between 1988 and 1992, the number of U.S.
hospital providing abortions decreased by 18%.
location of facilities providing abortion services to women
poses a barrier to services. One in ten women seeking abortion
outside a hospital had to travel over 100 miles for services
Guttmacher Institute, Facts in Brief: Induced Abortion, 1996.
Henshaw, Stanley. “Factors Hindering Access
to Abortion Services.” Family Planning Perspectives 27
Stanley. “Unintended Pregnancy in the United States.”
Family Planning Perspectives 30 (1998) 24-46.
Abortion Federation, “NAF Violence & Disruption
Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., 1998.