Every year about five percent of women in the U.S. have an unplanned pregnancy. Statistics reveal that this number has remained more-or-less steady since 1994. So nothing to be alarmed about, right?
A more thorough examination of the data reveals that while the overall unintended pregnancy rate has remained the same, the numbers for poor women have jumped up, while those for wealthier women have decreased.
Poor Women Five Times More Likely Than Higher-Income Women To Have An Unplanned Pregnancy
According to a new Guttmacher analysis of government data from the National Survey of Family Growth and other sources, in 2006, poor women were five times more likely to have an unintended pregnancy when compared to higher-income women:
In 1994, the unintended pregnancy rate among women with incomes below the federal poverty line was 88 per 1,000 women aged 15–44; it increased to 120 in 2001 and 132 in 2006-a 50% rise over the period. At the same time, the rate among higher-income women (those with incomes at or above 200% of the poverty line) fell from 34 in 1994 to 28 in 2001 and 24 in 2006-a 29% decrease. Poor women’s high rate of unintended pregnancy results in their also having high-and increasing-rates of both abortions (52 per 1,000) and unplanned births (66 per 1,000).
The rates were also higher for women who are 18-24, those who cohabitate, and minorities. However, low-income women had higher rates of unplanned pregnancies regardless of other factors, including marital status. A poor married woman’s chance of having an unintended pregnancy is more than twice as high as that of a well-off single woman.
And Yet…The Continued Fight To Restrict Abortion Rights And Defund Planned Parenthood
And yet, in tandem with these numbers, we see the efforts in so many states to restrict abortion rights and to defund Planned Parenthood continuing unabated. Have those Republican lawmakers actually considered that restricting low-income women’s access to family planning services could result in a jump in unplanned pregnancies? And have they thought about what the long-term effects of that increase could be?
Just when poorer women need more help with reproductive decisions, they are watching their healthcare options disappear.
As Care2′s Amelia Thomson-Veaux wrote here, a shocking 33 laws restricting abortion access were enacted in nine states during the month of April.
The war on women continues.
Photo Credit: Emery Co Photo via Creative Commons