Who gets abortions in US? CDC data offers snapshot of which groups typically seek procedure

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, abortion is an important component of public health. The most recent data from 2019 offers a snapshot of which groups seek the procedure.

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

As for the patients who are getting abortions, the most recent CDC data collected shows women with family incomes less than 100% the federal poverty level accounted for almost half of all abortion patients in 2014.

And in 2019, women in their 20s accounted for more than half of abortions. Black women had the highest rate; white women had the lowest.

"The majority of abortions are affecting Black and Hispanic mothers and young women," said Dima Qato of USC's Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics. Qato studies health disparities including access to family planning and reproductive health.

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"I think this is taking years of progress backward, especially when it comes to health equity and maternal health," she said.

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

"Mothers are perhaps not taking contraceptives when they need them. Therefore, they have an unintended 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 banned, restricted or not protected.

And many experts, including Qato, believe states like California will be highly impacted

"I think we're going to see an influx of patients that will go into states like California, which could overwhelm the system," she said.

Abortions using medications made up about 42% of procedures in 2019. Surgical abortions accounted for 49%.

Qato said that may be due to the fact that abortion medications are much harder for women to access. She also adds another unintended factor: We may soon see that the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown will have an impact on abortion trends.
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