The Life Circumstances of Women Accessing Abortion Services in the U.S.

Rachel K. Jones, Guttmacher Institute
Ann M. Moore, Guttmacher Institute
Lori Frohwirth, Guttmacher Institute

New data from a nationally representative sample of 9,483 abortion patients in the US and 49 in-depth interviews with abortion patients at three abortion clinics collected in 2008-2009 examine women’s life circumstances at the time of their abortion. The survey data reveal that 42% of women having abortions in 2008 were poor. 61% had one or more children and 85% were unmarried. In the last 12 months, patients reported that they had experienced unemployment (20%), separation from a partner or husband (16%), and falling behind on rent or mortgage payments (15%). The qualitative data found that difficult life circumstances that led to the unintended pregnancy were closely related to the reasons for choosing an abortion, making it even harder for these women to effectively manage the legal barriers to abortion services (e.g., waiting periods and lack of Medicaid coverage).

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Presented in Session 172: Abortion in Societies with Different Abortion Laws