Abortion rates hit an all-time low among African-Americans and other racial groups, reports a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Looking at the most recent available numbers, abortion rates fell from 1.6 million in 1990 to 1.1. million in 2010. However, the rate was still highest among African-American women, with 47.7 abortions per 1,000 women between the ages 15-44. But that is way down from 67 abortions per 1,000 women in 1990, the report states. Among white women, their 2010 rates were 9.8 per 1,000 pregnancies, down from 19.7 in 1990 and Latinas also had a decrease, down from 35.1 to 20.3.
In addition, the study also confirmed that teen pregnancy dropped significantly: Sixty-seven percent among teen girls 14 and younger and 50 percent for teens ages 15-19.
The researchers believe that looking at preliminary data for 2011, they expect to see similar declines in future reports, the Los Angeles Times points out. Meanwhile many health experts credit this historic decline to increased access to birth control, which recently has been threatened by the current war on Planned Parenthood and women’s reproductive health in the U.S.
But what does this all mean for Black women? Why are our rates so high?
First, whether you are Pro-Choice or Pro-Life, it’s important to look at this numbers as a public health issue and not a moral one. Black women and girls are getting pregnant at higher rates than our white counterparts, and for a range of reasons, they are not equipped to be and/or are not ready to be mothers.
And while abstinence is one way to reduce unwanted pregnancy and abortions, so is increased and prolonged access to affordable and trusted birth control methods, which past studies, including this 2014 Kaiser report, found that Black women have lower and inconsistent rates of birth control use to due to lack of access to health care, financial constraints and cultural beliefs. And when it comes to wrapping it up, numerous studies have shown that men are most likely to control condom use, especially among younger women and teen girls. Both, put Black women at higher risk for unwanted pregnancies and abortions, not to mention STI’s and HIV.
And while these numbers may spark outrage towards Black women’s personal choices or conversations about Black women’s wombs being dangerous, they really shouldn’t. Perhaps, this data should invoke more of us to advocate for a more effective health care system that provides all women with accessible and affordable tools that will empower us to become mothers on our own terms.
Editor’s Note: 46 states have mandatory abortion reporting requirements, but there is no national requirement for abortion data submission or reporting to the CDC’s Abortion Surveillance System. States and areas voluntarily report data to the CDC for inclusion in its annual Abortion Surveillance Report, so data is incomplete. The Guttmacher Institute, which is sourced in this report, gathers information through a national census of all known facilities that provide abortions in the United States. so their data is considered more complete.