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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

How many women have had abortions? Really.

In our comments at this post, we've been questioning some of the commonly touted numbers (by both pro-choice and pro-life folks). I'd mentioned that I'd heard Kaity Tong on the WB11 News on 4/5/03 announcing that Allan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) had stated that "40% of women will have had at least one abortion by the age of 20."

I thought I'd take a moment to try to dig up some info for further discussion. Welcome all links and input, either way. There's probably a stat for everyone's taste, unfortunately!

Allan Guttmacher's website quotes this study, "Jones RK, Darroch JE and Henshaw SK, Patterns in the socioeconomic characteristics of women obtaining abortions in 2000-2001, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2002, 34(5):226-235:"

...of "women aged 15-44", "48% of them have had at least one previous abortion."
That's almost one in every two women in that age group.

We'd need to see if the study they quote inflates the numbers. Ramesh Ponnuru from National Review was mentioned as citing this type of inflation, as well as being "one of, if not, the first to sound the alarm against the now debunked study that said abortions increased under President Bush." I haven't the time to go spelunking for links to those findings/reports, so if Emily B. or anyone can help, it's greatly appreciated.

This AGI page says,
"At current rates, about one in three American women will have had an abortion by the time she reaches age 45."
In 2000, 43% of all women were aged 15-44, or 61,650,000 women approximately, according to the U.S. Census.

48% of those 61,650,000 equates to about 29.6 million women aged 15- 44 alone who've had at least one abortion. That’s higher than the numbers quoted already (both raw and percentage).

If we took 29.6 million and divided that number by all women from 15 to, say, 65 years of age (an arbitrary “cutoff” as I’ve met several 70somethings who told me of their regret over their abortions):

93,657,000 (65.3% of all women) were aged 15-65.

29.6 million divided by 93.66 Million is 31.6% of those who could have abortions who did.
At least one out of almost every three women, or at least over 3 out of every 10, aged 15 through 65, has/have had an abortion, according to AGI.

(Remember, they don't give statistics for the numbers of post-abortive women past the age of 44, so it is only safe to say "at least.")

Looking at it another way, there were 113,977,830 total women who were of childbearing years or beyond (for sake of comparison only, starting at age 15, I know they can get pregnant earlier).

29.6 million divided by all childbearing or later women (114 Million) is 25.96%.

At least one out of more than every four women of childbearing age or beyond have had an abortion, according to AGI.
Both those sound less than “43% of women who have reached the age of 45,” and less than the "40% of all women who’ve reached the age of 20," yet either or both of these stats may still be accurate for what they state. (After all, for example, "56% of women having abortions are in their 20s.") These stats we first quoted in that original post and in the comments look at how many women once they reach that age will have had an abortion (a moving figure to be sure), not the actual total numbers in an age range of those who have had one.

PS: Then there's this AGI webpage which I misread at first, hence the reason for PS'ing it:

In 2000, 21 out of every 1,000 women of reproductive age had an abortion.
The key word there is “had,” meaning “had in the year 2000.” If there were 61,650,000 women aged 15-44 (roughly "of reproductive age"), then this statistic would be saying there were a mere 1.29 million women of reproductive age who had ever had an abortion by the year 2000! Clearly, then, we ought be sure not to confuse this statistic as giving anything other than a one-year data snapshot.

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