Abortion

Each year, a broad cross section of U.S. women obtain abortions. As of 2014, some 60% of women having abortions were in their 20s; 59% had one or more children; 86% were unmarried; 75% were economically disadvantaged; and 62% reported a religious affiliation. Sixty-three percent of Louisiana women ages 15-44 live in Parish with no abortion clinic.[1]

Explore the links below for more information on the facts about abortion.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a committee to examine the available evidence on the safety and quality of different abortion methods, health facilities, and types of clinicians as well as the potential physical and mental health impacts on women. This resulting report provides a comprehensive review of the state of the science.

WHAT IS MEDICATION ABORTION?

A medication abortion is an abortion that is induced by FDA-approved abortion pills—most often a combination of mifepristone (brand name Mifeprex) and misoprostol (brand name Cytotec, among others)—usually within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Medication abortion (abortion induced by taking FDA-approved pills) is physiologically indistinguishable from a miscarriage that occurs on its own.medication abortion (abortion induced by taking FDA-approved pills) is physiologically indistinguishable from a miscarriage that occurs on its own.

Knowledge really is power and knowing that medication abortion and spontaneous miscarriage are the same physical process is key to combating anti-abortion fear-mongering and correctly placing medication abortion in the context of normal human reproduction.[2]

To combat bad and confusing information about medication abortion, National Women’s Health Network created a FACT SHEET explaining medication abortion and miscarriage, outlining what to expect when experiencing either and what to watch out for.

WHO HAS ABORTIONS?[3]

  • More than half of all U.S. abortion patients in 2014 were in their 20s: Patients aged 20–24 obtained 34% of all abortions, and patients aged 25–29 obtained 27%.
  • Twelve percent of abortion patients in 2014 were adolescents: Those aged 18–19 accounted for 8% of all abortions, 15–17-year-olds for 3% and those younger than 15 for 0.2%.
  • White patients accounted for 39% of abortion procedures in 2014, blacks for 28%, Hispanics for 25% and patients of other races and ethnicities for 9%.
  • Seventeen percent of abortion patients in 2014 identified as mainline Protestant, 13% as evangelical Protestant and 24% as Catholic; 38% reported no religious affiliation and the remaining 8% reported some other affiliation.
  • The vast majority (94%) of abortion patients in 2014 identified as heterosexual or straight. Four percent of patients said they were bisexual, while 0.3% identified as homosexual, gay or lesbian and 1% identified as “something else.”
  • In 2014, some 46% of all abortion patients had never married and were not cohabiting. However, nearly half were living with a male partner in the month they became pregnant, including 14% who were married and 31% who were cohabiting.
  • Fifty-nine percent of abortions in 2014 were obtained by patients who had had at least one birth.
  • Some 75% of abortion patients in 2014 were poor or low-income. Twenty-six percent of patients had incomes of 100–199% of the federal poverty level, and 49% had incomes of less than 100% of the federal poverty level ($15,730 for a family of two).
  • The reasons patients gave for having an abortion underscored their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life. The three most common reasons—each cited by three-fourths of patients—were concern for or responsibility to other individuals; the inability to afford raising a child; and the belief that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents. Half said they did not want to be a single parent or were having problems with their husband or partner.
  • Fifty-one percent of abortion patients in 2014 were using a contraceptive method in the month they became pregnant, most commonly condoms (24%) or a hormonal method (13%).

SAFETY OF ABORTION
A first-trimester abortion is one of the safest medical procedures and carries minimal risk: Major complications (those requiring hospital care, surgery or transfusion) occur at a rate of less than 0.5%.[4],[5]

Exhaustive reviews by panels convened by the U.S. and UK governments have concluded that there is no association between abortion and breast cancer. There is also no indication that abortion is a risk factor for other cancers.[6]

Leading experts have concluded that among women who have an unplanned pregnancy, the risk of mental health problems is no greater if they have a single first-trimester abortion than if they carry the pregnancy to term.[7]

 


[1] Guttmacher Institute. State facts about abortion; 2018 [Louisiana,https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/state-facts-about-abortion-louisiana, updated 05/2018].
[2] The National Women’s Health Network. What to Expect When You Stop Expecting: Demystifying Miscarriage and Medication Abortion; June 4, 2019 [https://www.nwhn.org/what-to-expect-when-you-stop-expecting-demystifying-miscarriage-and-medication-abortion/, accessed 6/21/19]
[3] Guttmacher Institute. Induced Abortion in the United States [https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-united-states, accessed 6/21/19]
[4] Upadhyay UD et al., Incidence of emergency department visits and complications after abortion, Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2015, 125(1):175–183, doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000000603.
[5] White K, Carroll E and Grossman D, Complications from first-trimester aspiration abortion: a systematic review of the literature, Contraception, 2015, 92(5):422–438, doi:10.1016/j.contraception.2015.07.013.
[6] Boonstra HD et al., Abortion in Women’s Lives, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2006, https://www.guttmacher.org/report/abortion-womens-lives. 
[7] Major B et al., Report of the APA Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2008, http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/abortion/mental-health.pdf.