A new study by the Brookings institute has found that rich women have more abortions than poor women. These findings contradict those of the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which has said that poor women have more abortions.
The Brookings institute surveyed over 3800 women, and determined that those whose income was 400 percent or more higher than the poverty line were most likely to have aborted their last pregnancy. When asked whether or not they had aborted their baby the last time they were pregnant, roughly 32 percent of rich women said yes, contrasted with 9 percent of poor women.
The study’s authors suggest that poor women may not be able to afford abortions and contraception, leading to a higher birth rate among them. However, the authors also concede:
Work by the sociologist Kathryn Edin and others does suggest that a baby— even when unplanned—is a great source of fulfillment for women in low-income communities…It may also be, as Melissa Kearney and Phillip Levine’s work suggests, that women with limited economic prospects will control their fertility less carefully, because they have less to lose—what they call the ‘desperation effect.
By “less to lose” they seem to mean that women in a higher income bracket will be more seriously inconvenienced by pregnancy, as they stand to lose more money in caring for their children.
The dichotomy between rich and poor, however, leads to a possible conclusion that the study’s authors do not mention. It seems that more abortions are being done out of convenience than desperation. Rich women, who are more likely to have the resources to care for a child, are aborting more frequently than poor women, who face more serious hardship.
Abortion is not being used to prevent women from plunging deeper into poverty, but by the rich to avoid making the sacrifices that caring for a child would entail. Rather than aborting out of a desperate need to stay afloat economically, women may be aborting for convenience.
Of course, both rich and poor women have the opportunity to put their babies up for adoption, avoiding the inconvenience and hardship of raising a child altogether. Sadly, this is an option that few women, rich or poor, consider.
The study’s authors conclude that abortion needs to be more available to the poor and, therefore, more common, in order to prevent unwanted births. While they offer lip service to providing more resources to the poor, they make it clear that these resources should be geared towards giving the poor more abortions.
Pro-lifers, on the other hand, offer real and concrete help to poor women in crisis pregnancy centers across the country. Crisis pregnancy centers offer their services for free and can provide housing, maternity clothes, and baby items for poor women.
Pro-lifers need to continue to help women who are poor and want to keep their babies. They also need to continue educating women (and men) about the health risks of abortion, as well as the gruesome reality of the procedure, in the hopes that fewer women will make such a destructive choice.