(Adapted from The Alan Guttmacher Institute, www.agi-usa.org)
Abortion is a common experience: at current rates, about 1 in 3 American women will have had an abortion by the time she reaches age 45.
A broad cross section of American women have abortions. The majority of abortions (57%) are in their 20s; 61% have one or more children, up from 50% in 1989; 85% are unmarried; 69% are economically disadvantaged; and 73% report a religious affiliation. No racial or ethnic group makes up a majority: 36% of women obtaining abortions are white non-Hispanic, 30% are black non-Hispanic, 25% are Hispanic and 9% are of other racial backgrounds.
Although 47% of abortions are obtained by women who have had a prior abortion, the proportion of second and subsequent abortions has recently begun to fall. There is no evidence that abortion is being used as a primary method of birth control.
Overall rates of abortion in the United States peaked soon after termination of pregnancy was legalized in 1973, remained fairly constant through the 1980s, and have declined steadily since then. However, the overall rate masks large differences and varying patterns across time for demographic subgroups. A substantial drop in the abortion rates of teenagers and women aged 20–24 accounts for much of the overall decline from 1989 to 2004. During this period, the abortion rate of women in their 30s changed little, while the rate of women aged 40 or older increased.
Minors account for fewer than 7% of all abortions. Abortion rates for married and unmarried women have dropped significantly in the past 15 years, as well as for all racial and ethnic groups.
Contraceptive use is a key predictor of women's recourse to abortion. Fifty percent of pregnancies are unintended and 40% of unintended pregnancies end in abortion. The very small group of American women who are at risk of experiencing an unintended pregnancy, but are not using contraceptives, account for almost half of all abortions. Many of these women did not think they would get pregnant or had concerns about contraceptive methods. The remainder of abortions that occur among the much larger group of women who were using contraceptives in the month they became pregnant. Many of these women report difficulty using contraceptives consistently.
In the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a woman, in consultation with her physician, has a constitutionally protected right to choose abortion in the early stages of pregnancy and before the fetus is mature enough to live on its own outside the uterus - that is, before fetal viability. Abortion is defined as the expulsion of a non-viable fetus.
In 1992, the Court upheld the basic right to abortion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. However, it also expanded the ability of the states to enact restrictions, enabling the republican majority in Congress to make access to abortion increasingly difficult or, in many parts of the USA, impossible.
In Florida, the following restrictions on abortion became effective in May of 2013:
* Health plans that will be offered in the state’s health exchange that will be established under the federal health care reform law can only cover abortion in cases when the woman's life is endangered, rape or incest, unless an optional rider is purchased at an additional cost.
* Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
* The parent of a minor must be notified before an abortion is provided.
A woman must undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion; the provider must offer her the option to view the image.
Most abortions occur before nine weeks’ gestation, and the proportion of very early abortions (<7 weeks) has increased substantially since 1994. The proportion of abortions performed after 12 weeks of pregnancy has changed little, and fewer than 0.2% take place after 24 weeks.
Pregnancies and Their Outcomes
• In 2008, there were 6.4 million pregnancies to the 62 million women of reproductive age (15-44) in the United States. Sixty-six percent of these pregnancies resulted in live births and 19% in abortions; the remaining 15% ended in miscarriage.
• In Florida, 381,500 of the 3,505,482 women of reproductive age became pregnant in 2008. 61% of these pregnancies resulted in live births and 25% in induced abortions.
• In 2008, 1.2 million American women obtained abortions, producing a rate of 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age. The rate is virtually unchanged from 2005, when the abortion rate was 19.4 abortions per 1,000 women 15-44.
• In 2008, 94,360 women obtained abortions in Florida, producing a rate of 27.2 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age. Some of these women were from other states, and some Florida 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 26.8 abortions per 1,000 women 15-44. Abortions in Florida represent 7.8% of all abortions in the United States.
KEEP ABORTION SAFE AND LEGAL: MAKING THE CASE
Legal abortion avoids the dangers of horrific, sometimes life-threatening, self administered abortions.
Legal restrictions have historically failed to eliminate induced abortion. Instead, they make all abortions clandestine and unsafe.
Making abortion illegal would drive women once again into the back alleys, without necessarily decreasing the number of abortions. According to the World Health Organization, (WHO) the estimated worldwide number of maternal deaths from illegal abortions range between 65,000 and 70,000 deaths per year which represent 12% of all maternal deaths. For each woman who dies, many other suffer disability from infections, bleeding, damage to bowel and reproductive organs, and infertility secondary to complications of illegal abortions. The worldwide consequences of unsafe abortion are enormous suffering and maternal deaths that are entirely preventable.
Prior to 1970, illegal abortion in the USA caused an estimated 1,000 annual women's deaths. The abortion-related mortality has declined dramatically after nationwide legalization.
In 1972, the CDC recorded 24 deaths from all causes recognized to be associated with Legal Induced Abortions, notably infection, hemorrhage, embolism, and anesthesia complications. By 1990, with improvements of the surgical skills and increased expertise of the abortion providers, this figure had fallen to 9 deaths which translates into a ratio of 0.6 deaths per 100,000 legal abortions and has varied little since.
Legal abortion has saved women's lives and kept populations from soaring. It has not only improved women's quality of life and provided substantial health benefit but has contributed to a 60% decline in maternal mortality since 1970, and a decline of the rates of neonatal mortality, low birth weight and preterm births.
Compared to the mortality ratio of legal abortion, the CDC reports a maternal death ratio of 17 per 100,000 live births, which is more than 28 times higher. The reason for this enormous difference in mortality rates is that most maternal deaths in developed countries are related to complications of hypertensive disorders and pulmonary embolism which typically strike women during the last three months of pregnancy. First and Second Trimester Abortion prevents these deaths because it precludes the third trimester of pregnancy and its attendant complications.
The reduced number of births among high risk women (such as the very young, the very old, and women in poor health) has substantially reduced their rates of maternal mortality, neonatal mortality, low birth weight and preterm births.
It is well established that births that are spaced too closely pose health risks to both the mothers and their offspring.
In the USA, there has been an increasing proportion of legal abortions occurring before 7 weeks LMP, from 16% in 1995, to 30% in 2005. There also has been a 90% decrease in the mortality rate of ectopic pregnancy, from 355 deaths per 100,000 ectopic pregnancies in 1970; to 38 per 100,000 ectopic pregnancies in 1989.
This declining mortality correlates with the improved access to medical care early in pregnancy as women become increasingly aware of the benefits of early prenatal care; the benefits of getting the first ultrasound exam early in pregnancy; and the benefits of obtaining an abortion at an early stage of pregnancy, when abortions are exceptionally safe and may provide the added benefit of leading to a timely diagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy, before the ectopic pregnancy ruptures and becomes a life-threatening surgical emergency. Early detection of ectopic pregnancy may provide a safer, non-surgical solution at substantially lesser costs and morbidity.
Recent technological advances allow us to perform the termination earlier in pregnancy, as early as 3 to 4 weeks from the last menstrual period (LMP).
WOMEN'S REVOLUTION HAS JUST BEGUN:
In November 2013, Gloria Steinem received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S. for her work on behalf of women's equality and empowerment.
In her acceptance speech, Gloria Steinem said that "a woman's ability to decide when and whether to bear a child is not a social issue; it is a human right".
"In this country, reproductive freedom has not yet been recognized as a basic human right. We don't yet have reproductive freedom".
Gloria Steinem states that "like freedom of speech, reproductive freedom affects everything else in life -whether a woman is educated or not, works outside the home or not, is healthy or not, and how long she lives".
"Pope Francis is being praised for his stance on "economic issues", and forgiven for being no help at all on contraception and abortion. Yet for the female half of the world, reproductive freedom is the biggest economic issue"
If you would like more information, you may contact us at any of the following numbers:
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Our address is: 2100 E Commercial Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33308-3822
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