Abortion will always be one of those hotly debated and emotional issues. But if you think you have a good handle on the state of abortion in the U.S., you may be surprised by some of these stats:
Abortions are not on the rise.
Though the abortion debate is a very visible part of the American landscape, the number of abortions in the U.S. have been generally declining since the 1990s.
Women who get abortions aren’t who you think they are.
Far too often, the objection to abortion is presented as a religious one. But according to one survey, 62% of women who had abortions listed a religious affiliation.
There’s also no clear racial divide.
No race makes up a majority of reported abortion patients. White women make up the largest group, while black and Hispanic women make up roughly a quarter each of the total count.
Most women who have had an abortion are already mothers.
While the majority of women who had abortions in 2012 were unmarried – 85% – the CDC’s reporting shows most women who have an abortion have already had at least one child. And 14% of women who had an abortion in 2012 already had three or more children.
Late-term abortions are rare.
In the abortion debtate, “late term” abortions are often the most hotly contested types of procedures. Yet, they also represent a miniscule number of abortion procedures.
“Late-term” is considered by some to be anything from the point of fetal viability (when the fetus is able to survive outside the womb). However, the definition and parameters of “viability” is in and of itself a grey area. According to AmericanPregnancy.org, the earliest accepted time of viability is at 24 weeks gestation, in the back half of the second trimester.
They’re also heavily legislated.
Women can’t just get abortions whenever they want in their pregnancy. An overwhelming number of states restrict abortions based on how far along the woman is.
There is a legal precedent to what constitutes “viability” here. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that the viability of a fetus should be defined by physicians on an individual basis.
In fact, it’s often legal to deny abortion services.
An overwhelming number of states also allow individuals or institutions to legally refuse to participate in abortion procedures. This means, if they don’t want to perform an abortion – for whatever reason – they don’t have to. California explicitly extends this legal right to religious institutions.
The debate is unlikely to end any time soon.
When asked to choose between “pro-choice” or “pro-life,” about half of registered U.S. voters polled in 2015 said they identified as “pro-choice.” However, a clear majority of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or some circumstances. Only 19% of voters polled said they thought abortion should be completely illegal.