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Who Gets an Abortion in the United States? CDC data offers insight into groups that typically seek a procedure


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, abortion is an important part of public health. The most recent data from 2019 offers insight into the groups requesting the procedure.

As the data shows, barring access to the procedure would disproportionately affect young women.

When it comes to abortion patients, the most recent CDC data collected shows that women with household incomes below 100 percent of the federal poverty level accounted for nearly half of all abortion patients in 2014.

And in 2019, women in their twenties accounted for more than half of abortions. Black women had the highest rate; white women had the lowest.

“The majority of abortions affect black and Hispanic mothers and young women,” said Dima Qato of USC’s Shaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics. Qato studies health disparities, including access to family planning and reproductive health.

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“I think it rolls back years of progress, especially when it comes to health equity and maternal health,” she said.

The CDC snapshot also reveals that 85% were single and 14% were married. Sixty percent were already mothers.

“Mothers may not take contraceptives when they need them. Therefore, they have an unwanted pregnancy and would like to choose to have an abortion,” Qato said.

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the legal status of abortion in more than half the states would be either prohibited, restricted, or unprotected.

And many experts, including Qato, believe states like California will be hit hard.

“I think we’re going to see an influx of patients going to states like California, which could overwhelm the system,” she said.

Medical abortions accounted for approximately 42% of procedures in 2019. Surgical abortions accounted for 49%.

Qato said this could be because abortion drugs are much harder to access for women. She also adds another unforeseen factor: we may soon see that the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown will impact abortion trends.

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