Background on Abortion for Trust Women Week

There will always be women who need access to abortions.
Abortion is basic health care for women.

  • 1 in 3 American women will have had an abortion by age 45.
  • About 50% of pregnancies in theU.S. are unintended.
  • 4 in 10 unintended pregnancies are terminated by abortion.[1]
  • In 2008, 1.21 million abortions were performed in US.


  • Teen pregnancy accounts for only 2 in 10 of all abortions
    performed in theUS.
  • Women in their twenties account for more than half of all
    abortions performed in the US.[2]
  • 88% of abortions occur in the 1st 12 weeks. Only
    1.5% occur later in the term.
  • 6 in 10 women having abortions already have one or more

    • These women often cite
      the need to care for their children as a primary reason for choosing to
      have   an abortion.
    • 66%
      of women having abortions intend to have children in the future.


  • 3 in 4 women who have abortions describe themselves as
    religiously affiliated.
  • Catholic women have an abortion rate 29% higher
    than Protestant women.
  • One in five women having an abortion is a
    born-again or Evangelical Christian.[3]


  • In 2008, more than 4 in 10 abortion patients had incomes
    below the federal poverty line.[4]

    • Women of color have much higher rates of unintended
      pregnancies and are disproportionately more likely to have an abortion, which
      points to widespread inequities in access to contraception and adequate health


  • 54% of women who have abortions used a contraceptive method
    (usually the condom or the pill) during the month they became pregnant. Among
    those women, 76% of pill users and 49% of condom users report having used their
    method inconsistently, while 13% of pill users and 14% of condom users report
    correct use.[5]


Abortion and Providers


  • In 2008, 87% of U.S. counties had no abortion provider.[6]
    • 1/3 of American women live in a county with no abortion
      provider, which meant they would have to travel outside their county to obtain
      an abortion. Of women obtaining abortions in 2006, nonhospital providers
      estimate that 27% traveled at least 50 miles.


Abortion is Safe

  • The risk of abortion complications is minimal: Fewer than
    0.3% of abortion patients experience a complication that requires
  • Abortion is safer when and where it is legal.
    • Opponents have attempted to claim that abortion causes a
      number of complications.  There is no
      evidence for these claims, and research has systematically discredited each of
    • In repeated studies since the early 1980s, leading experts
      have concluded that abortion does not pose a hazard to women’s mental health.[8]
    • Abortion does not increase one’s risk of breast cancer as
      shown by several peer-reviewed and respected scientific studies.
    • Abortions performed in the first trimester pose virtually no
      long-term risk of such problems as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous
      abortion (miscarriage) or birth defect, and little or no risk of preterm or low-birth-weight


Threats to Abortion Access

Threats to legal abortion

  • In 1992, the Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey
    significantly weakened the legal protections previously afforded women and
    physicians by giving states the right to enact restrictions that do not create
    an “undue burden” for women seeking abortion[10].
  • Since
    1976 via the Hyde Amendment (which has been renewed every year), Congress has
    barred the use of federal Medicaid funds to pay for abortions, except when the
    woman’s life would be endangered by a full-term pregnancy or in cases of rape
    or incest.
  • On May 4, 2011, HR3 passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a
    vote of 251 to 175 . (No action in  the

    • Expands and makes permanent (as opposed to
      annual opportunity to strike it) that no federal funds can be spent on abortion
    • Uses personal and business tax policy to bar
      any insurance policy (including those paid with personal funds) from covering
      abortion, even to protect a woman’s health when threatened by complication with
      later term wanted pregnancies which could result in all private insurance
      dropping coverage of abortion. Currently 85% of private insurance plans cover
    • Redefines rape as only “forcible rape,”
      meaning those that are inebriated or drugged do not count as rapes. Women would
      have to prove that the rape was forced.


  • 36 state
    governments enacted 92 anti-choice regulations related to abortions in 2011, a
    new record.  The previous record was in
    2005, when about 34 regulations were enacted.

These measures:

Discourage and delay pregnant women from acting on decisions to obtain
an abortion.

Interfere with clinician practices in the name of safety.

Restrict the gestational period for when a fetus can be aborted.

Limit government funds to for abortion care and thus limits the choices
of poor women.

women’s decisions. 



  • Eliminating
    insurance coverage of abortion. Currently 85% of private insurance covers
    abortion. Laws passed by the House of Representatives and state governments are
    in effect banning private coverage of abortion
  • “Consicence
    Clauses” that allow women to die. 10/2011 the House of Representatives passed
    the “Protect
    Life Act”, known by women’s health advocates as the “Let
    Women Die
    ” bill. It allows hospitals that receive federal funds to reject
    any woman
    in need of an abortion procedure, even if it is necessary to save
    her life.
  • Requiring Ultrasounds before abortion. Some states require
    that women receive information about how to access an ultrasound while others
    require that a woman undergo an ultrasound prior to obtaining an abortion. An
    ultrasound is not medically necessary for first-trimester abortion and
    these types of laws appear to be attempts to personify the fetus and dissuade
    the woman from choosing an abortion, as well as significantly add to the cost
    of the procedure[11].
  • “Informed consent” a.k.a. misinformation/scare tactic
    requirements are often used to interfere with a woman’s easy access to a safe
    abortion. Many states require mandatory biased counseling and often at least a
    24-hour “waiting period” between counseling and an abortion procedure. Many
    states require certain information to be given during counseling such as
    information about fetal development, how to obtain an ultrasound, along with
    misleading or inaccurate information about the risks associated with abortion.
    This requirement, designed to deter women from seeking an abortion, causes an
    undue emotional and financial burden. In states that require a waiting period,
    women must make two trips to a health care provider in order to obtain an
    abortion, increasing the difficulty of accessing an abortion for low-income or
    working women[12] who have to find child
    care, transportation and coverage at their jobs to travel large distances to a
    provider twice.
  • Many clinics and health care facilities are targets of
    serious antiabortion violence including bombings, arson, and vandalism.
    Additionally, these facilities are often subject to violent protests and
    blockades. The federal government in 1994 enacted the Freedom of Access to
    Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act which prohibits intentional property damage, or the
    use of force or threat of force to injure, intimidate, or interfere with
    someone entering a health care facility[13].
  • Crisis pregnancy centers present themselves as “pregnancy
    clinics” or “medical clinicis” to persuade women to not have an abortion.
    Rather than present all the options (continue, continue and put up for
    adoption, or terminate) they present biased facts. Many receive taxpayers

  • State initiatives to make the embryo a person. Colorado started this trend. Mississippi followed suit this year, in an
    initiative that was defeated by voters.

Some good


California Specific

  • In California, 897,700 of the 7,680,396 women of
    reproductive age became pregnant in 2008. 61% of these pregnancies resulted in
    live births and 24% in induced abortions.
  • In 2008, 214,190 women obtained abortions in California, producing a rate of 27.6 abortions
    per 1,000 women of reproductive age. Some of these women were from other states,
    and some California residents had abortions in other states, so this rate may
    not reflect the abortion rate of state residents. The rate increased 2% since
    2005, when it was 27.1 abortions per 1,000 women 15-44. Abortions in California represent 17.7% of all abortions in
    theUnited States.
  • In 2008, 22% of California counties had no abortion provider.[14] 

Catholics support birth control and have abortions. 


Henshaw SK, Unintended pregnancy and abortion: a
public health perspective, in: Paul M et al., eds., A Clinician’s Guide to
Medical and Surgical Abortion
, New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1999, pp.

Major B et al., Report of the
Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, American Psychological Association,
Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, 2008, Washington, DC, <>, accessed December
15, 2011.

Major B et al., Report of the
Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, American Psychological Association,
Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, 2008, Washington, DC, <>, accessed December
15, 2011.

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