OBJECTIVE: To estimate abortion rates among subpopulations of women in 2008, assess changes in subpopulation abortion rates since 2000, and estimate the lifetime incidence of abortion.
METHODS: We combined secondary data from several sources, including the 2008 Abortion Patient Survey, the Current Population Surveys for 2008 and 2009, and the 2006–2008 National Survey of Family Growth, to estimate abortion rates by subgroup and lifetime incidence of abortion for U.S. women of reproductive age.
RESULTS: The abortion rate declined 8.0% between 2000 and 2008, from 21.3 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 to 19.6 per 1,000. Decreases in abortion were experienced by most subgroups of women. One notable exception was poor women; this group accounted for 42.4% of abortions in 2008, and their abortion rate increased 17.5% between 2000 and 2008 from 44.4 to 52.2 abortions per 1,000. In addition to poor women, abortion rates were highest for women who were cohabiting (52.0 per 1,000), aged 20–24 (39.9 per 1,000), or non-Hispanic African American (40.2 per 1,000). If the 2008 abortion rate prevails, 30.0% of women will have an abortion by age 45.
CONCLUSION: Abortion is becoming increasingly concentrated among poor women, and restrictions on abortion disproportionately affect this population.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: III