Race Matters: Study Shows Black Women Are Five Times More Likely To Have An Abortion Than White Women

- By Bossip Staff

Why are Black women more likely to get an abortion?

Black Women Are More Likely To Get An Abortion Than Whites

Via The Atlantic reports:

In 2005, Renee Bracey Sherman, then 19, sat in the abortion clinic alone.

A jumble of concerns ran through her mind. She didn’t feel ready for a baby, but still, she worried that her parents would be disappointed in her choice. More than anything, though, she didn’t want to be a statistic, another pregnant black teen.

“In the moment, you never know who your allies are,” Bracey Sherman said. “You don’t want to take the chance of everyone judging you at a moment when you’re so vulnerable. There’s a very unfortunate stereotype of women of color, and black women in particular, that we are promiscuous and just have babies. You don’t want that to be you.”

An African-American woman is almost five times likelier to have an abortion than a white woman, and a Latina more than twice as likely, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rate of abortion among American women is currently at its lowest point since Roe v. Wade, according to a recent report by the Guttmacher Institute. About 1.1 million abortions were performed in 2011, at a rate of 16.9 abortions for every 1,000 women of childbearing age, down from a peak of 29.3 per 1,000 in 1981. Since the report’s release in February, the reason why has been the subject of much debate. Its authors and abortion-rights supporters point to the increase in contraceptive use and sexual education, while anti-abortion activists counter that the decrease is a result of abstinence-only teachings and state restrictions.

Largely missing from the debate, though, is discussion of abortion’s racial disparity: Although rates among Hispanic and African-American women have decreased along with the rest of the country, they remain significantly higher than the national average.

“There are a multitude of reasons, and we don’t fully understand what’s going on,” Dehlendorf said. “But ultimately I think it’s about structural determinants— economic reasons, issues related to racism, differences in opportunities, differences in social and historical context.”

She emphasized that money is often a decisive factor. The median wealth of white households is 18 times that of Hispanic households and 20 times that of black households, according to the Pew Research Center, but across the board, low-income women have a higher rate of unintended pregnancy and abortion regardless of race. They are less likely to have health insurance or consistent access to healthcare, and therefore birth control, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The Guttmacher report credited the increase in popularity of contraceptive intrauterine devices (IUDs) with contributing to the decline of the abortion rate. IUDs are among the longest-lasting and most effective methods of birth control—but they’re also among the most expensive, and therefore not an option for many low-income women.

Yet black women still have higher rates of abortion even when controlling for income, according to a 2008 report by the Guttmacher Institute. At almost every income level, African-Americans have higher unintended pregnancy and abortion rates than whites or Hispanics.


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