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Study: Abortion Disproportionately Affects Black, Old, Poor Women

While the overall abortion rate has declined dramatically over the past 30 years, a new study shows, the rates fell more among white women and teenagers than among black, Hispanic, old and poor women.

A report released Tuesday by the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization associated with Planned Parenthood Federation of America, examined abortion rates in the U.S. between 1974 – the year after Roe v. Wade – and 2004.

"There's been a shift in the population of women obtaining abortions relative to 30 years ago," said Rachel Jones, a senior research associate at the institute, according to HealthDay. "They are older, they are more likely to be unmarried, more likely to be mothers, and they are more likely to be women of color."

The study found the rate of abortions is at its lowest point since 1974, dropping 33 percent from a peak of 29 abortions per 1,000 women, ages 15 to 44, in 1980 to 20 per 1,000 in 2004.

In the past two decades, the total number of abortions dropped from 1.6 million in 1984 to 1.2 million in 2004.

From 1974 to 2004, the rate of abortion fell among teenagers, declining 33 to 17 percent among women younger than 20, and 15 to 6 percent among those younger than 18.

But the rate of abortion increased among women in their 20s and 30s. Women who chose abortion are more likely to have children already and 47 percent who had an abortion said they had undergone the procedure before. Also, more women obtaining abortions are poor or low-income, according to the study.

The report showed a decline in abortion rates across racial and ethnic groups. However, Hispanic and black women were more likely to have an abortion, at rates three to five times the rate of white women.

"We know from other research that having lower income makes a woman more likely to get an abortion. Women of color tend to be lower-income, and so in turn when confronted with an unintended pregnancy are more likely to have an abortion," said Jones, according to The Washington Post.

Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, attributed the disparity to Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider.

"Planned Parenthood has preyed on minorities since its founder advocated negative eugenics! If Congress truly wants across-the-board reductions in abortion, our leaders will have to stop funding its biggest provider," said Perkins.

Michael J. New, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Alabama who works with the Family Research Council, told the Post that pro-life legislation makes a difference in abortion rates.

"The states with the most active pro-life laws have seen the biggest abortion declines," he said, noting that increased contraceptive use, more teenagers delaying sex and state laws requiring parental consent have all played a role in reducing teen pregnancies.

The Guttmacher Institute was originally founded as the Center for Family Planning Program Development and constituted as a semiautonomous division of Planned Parenthood. The early development of the Institute was nurtured by Alan F. Guttmacher, who served as PPFA's president for more than a decade, according to the Guttmacher Institute website. The institute later became an independent, not-for-profit corporation in 1977 and remains a "special affiliate" of PPFA.

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