In recent years, the Right has created a picture in the public eye of what an abortion patient looks like: It’s typically a promiscuous non-Christian teen in her third trimester who just isn’t ready for kids yet.
An article in the New York Times showed that this stereotype couldn’t be further from the truth.
Not only are teenagers having fewer abortions, most patients are already mothers. In addition, “nearly half of abortions happen in the first six weeks of pregnancy, and nearly all in the first trimester.”
Here’s the breakdown (with percentages added):
THE TYPICAL PATIENT …
Is Already a Mother. (60%)
Is in Her Late 20s. (29%)
Attended Some College. (41%)
Has a Low Income. (49%)
Is Unmarried. (46%)
Is in Her First 6 Weeks of Pregnancy. (43%)
Is Having Her First Abortion. (58%)
Lives in a Blue State. (68%)
Of course, bold overgeneralizations like this can never tell the whole story, even when they do provide some insight. (This information is from the C.D.C. and the Guttmacher Institute, and the statistics are from 2019 and 2014, respectively.) Just consider what the Times noted about race:
We did not include measures of race in this article because such C.D.C. data is less complete than for other measures, omitting information from 20 states. That data from those states suggests that just over a third of women who obtain abortions are Black, and another third are white. A 2014 survey from Guttmacher of a more nationally representative population of patients also found that Black women were overrepresented relative to their share of the population, which is around 13 percent, but found they made up a smaller share of abortion patients, at less than 30 percent.
I can’t shake the fact that systemic racism is inherently tied to women’s reproductive rights even when abortion opponents act like it has nothing to do with it.
(As a side note, I can’t recommend enough the 2016 documentary Jackson, about the Jackson Women’s Health Organization’s struggle to stay open in recent years, enough. It exemplifies the struggle of poor Black women and their dire need for abortion resources.)
Viewing abortion as a single issue with a single solution is never going to solve anything. If you feel that the number of abortions needs to be reduced (even though it has already been declining for 40 years), banning the procedure isn’t the answer. It never has been.
Want to lower the rates? Then address poverty. Address racial inequality. Provide people with housing, education, and healthcare. All that is going to go much further when it comes to allowing women to have the resources they need to raise children and prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place.
That way, the children that do enter this world will be wanted, warm, and fed — even after they leave the womb.