Demand for abortion rises as 1 in 5 pregnancies are terminated

An ultrasound machine sits next to an exam table in an examination room at Whole Woman's Health of South Bend on June 19, 2019 in South Bend, Indiana. The clinic, which provides reproductive healthcare for women including providing abortions is scheduled to open next week following a nearly two-year court battle. Part of the Texas-based nonprofit Whole Woman's Health Alliance, the clinic will offer medication-induced abortions for women who are up to 10 weeks pregnant. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
An ultrasound machine sits next to an exam table in an examination room at Whole Woman's Health of South Bend on June 19, 2019 in South Bend, Indiana. The clinic, which provides reproductive healthcare for women including providing abortions is scheduled to open next week following a nearly two-year court battle. Part of the Texas-based nonprofit Whole Woman's Health Alliance, the clinic will offer medication-induced abortions for women who are up to 10 weeks pregnant. Photo credit (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS RADIO) – Data released this week from the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization focused on sexual and reproductive health, shows that one in five pregnancies in the U.S. during 2020 ended in abortion.

A leaked Supreme Court draft opinion indicates that the court could very well overturn abortion protections established in the 1970s with the landmark Roe v. Wade decision this summer. If they do, abortion is expected to quickly become mostly unavailable in 26 states.

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Mississippi, which is at the center of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health case that could overturn Roe, is one of those states. According to Guttmacher, it is also one of the states that had a substantial increase (40% from 2017 to 2020) in abortions.

From 2017 to 2020, the overall national abortion ratio – the number of abortions per 100 pregnancies – increased from 18.4% to 20.6%. This reverses a three-decade decline in abortions.

Rates varied from state to state and Guttmacher said “there were no clear patterns to explain why some had increases or decreases.”

As abortion rates increased, the number of overall births in the U.S. also fell by 6% between 2017 and 2020.

“Because there were many more births (3.6 million) than abortions (930,000) in 2020, these patterns mean that fewer people were getting pregnant and, among those who did, a larger proportion chose to have an abortion,” said the Guttmacher Institute.

In an interview with Audacy, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, professor and PhD program director Gretchen Ely professor and PhD explained that economic difficulties are one of the main reasons why people choose not to go forward with pregnancies.

The COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, and vaccines were not available for many months. COVID-19 has been “the biggest test of the global financial system since the 2008 financial crisis,” according to the international Financial Stability Board, and it has left people uncertain about their financial futures.

Additionally, remote schooling presented a challenge to many working parents during the pandemic. Schools may be back in session for the most part, but rising gas prices and inflation, as well as supply chain issues such as the baby formula shortage, have brought parents new challenges in recent months.

“People with very few resources and those who are already marginalized bear the brunt of abortion bans and other restrictive policies,” regarding abortion, said Guttmacher.

According to a Business Insider report, the average cost to have a baby in the U.S., without complications during delivery, is $10,808. This figure can increase to $30,000 when before and after care is factored in.

The national average wage index for 2020 in the U.S. was just over $55,600, according to the Social Security Administration.

A middle-income ($59,200-$107,400), two-child, married couple family was expected to spend approximately $12,980 annually to raise their child, based on 2015 statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Middle-income, married-couple parents of a child born in 2015 may expect to spend $233,610 [not factoring in inflation costs] for food, shelter, and other necessities to raise a child through age 17,” based on the 2015 data, said the USDA. “This does not include the cost of a college education.”

Apart from financial stress, women have also dealt with increasing threats of domestic violence during the pandemic, according to UN Women.

“Since the outbreak of COVID-19, emerging data and reports from those on the front lines, have shown that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has intensified,” said the organization.

Even before the pandemic began, one in three women had experienced physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner.

“An increase in abortion numbers is a positive development if it means people are getting the health care they want and need,” said the Guttmacher Institute. “Rather than focusing on reducing abortion, policies should instead center the needs of people and protect their right to bodily autonomy.”

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Featured Image Photo Credit: (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)