Abortion Patients in 1994-1995: Characteristics and Contraceptive Use
Citation: Henshaw, Stanley K., Kost, Kathryn Abortion Patients in 1994-1995: Characteristics and Contraceptive Use.
The data used in this analysis is from a 1994-1995 national survey of 9,985 abortion patients. The survey consisted of a self-administered questionnaire, available in English and Spanish, given to abortion patients by the staff of 100 abortion facilities. All patients of a facility during a given period were given the questionnaire to fill out. The abortion facilities were a stratified sample chosen from a state-by-state list of abortion providers, stratified by provider type and size. Distributions by race were checked against CDC data to verify their accuracy. The authors were unable to calculate the abortion rate (number of abortions per 1,000 women), because the total number of abortions for 1994 or 1995 was unknown. Instead they constructed an abortion index that equals the ratio of the abortion rate for each subgroup to the total abortion rate (thus canceling out the total number of abortions in each component). Results reveal that women who live with a partner outside marriage or have no religious affiliation are 3.5-4.0 times as likely as women in the general population to have an abortion. Nonwhites, women aged 18-24, Hispanics, separated and never-married women, and those who have an annual income of less than 15,000 or who are enrolled in Medicaid are 1.6-2.2 times as likely to do so; residents of metropolitan counties have a slightly elevated likelihood of abortion. Women with some college appear to be slightly more likely than other women to receive an abortion (distributions by education in the NCHS data are somewhat different from those that appear in this sample). When age is controlled, women who have had a live birth are more likely to have an abortion than are those who have never had children. Teenagers relative abortion index has declined while that of women their 20s has increased. Women ages 20-24 have the highest rates. Women who are cohabiting are about 3.5 times as likely to have an abortion than noncohabiting women after adjusting for age, but the differential appears to have declined over time. Catholics are as likely as women in the general population to have an abortion, while Protestants are only 69% as likely and Evangelical or born-again Christians are only 39% as likely. Since 1987, the proportion of abortions obtained by Hispanic women and the abortion rate among Hispanics relative to that for other ethnic groups have increased, but remains below that of black women. The abortion index for black women is nearly three times that of whites and the differential has increased over time. The proportion of abortion patients who had been using a contraceptive during the month they became pregnant rose from 51% in 1987 to 58%. Of the 42% who were not using a method, 74% (31% of the sample) had used a method in the past. A majority had relied on the pill (55%) or condoms (29%). Prior users appeared to become pregnant more quickly after stopping use than their counterparts in 1987, possibly due to the decline in the percent that had previously used the pill. Nonuse is most common among teenagers, women with low education and income, blacks, Hispanics, unemployed women and those who want more children. Between 1987 and 1994/95, the proportion of never users declined among those under age 18, but increased among those aged 20 and older (possibly due to the higher proportion of Hispanic immigrants in 1994/95). The proportion of abortion patients whose pregnancy is attributable to condom failure increased from 15% to 32%, while the proportions reporting the failure of other barrier methods and spermicides has decreased.