Monday, November 21, 2005

Why So Many Repeat Abortions?

Almost everybody, prolife and prochoice alike, is dismayed or disgusted with the high rate of repeat abortions in the United States. The Association for Interdisciplinary Research in Values and Social Change, comprised of prolife researchers, put out a special issue of their periodical, addressing the issue of repeat abortions. In addition to the moral and ethical qualms many people feel about abortion in general and repeat abortions in particular, there is also the problem of physical damage done to women's reproductive organs by the repeated intrusion of abortion instruments.

The dynamics that lead women to make repeated trips to the abortion clinic are debated hotly, ranging from a cavalier attitude to pathological re-living of an original abortion trauma. What is known is that each abortion that a woman undergoes leaves her statistically more likely to abort again. But it's a chicken-and-egg situation. Does the woman's lifestyle pattern lead to the repeat abortions, or do the abortions cause a downward spiral into an ever more chaotic life situation that leads back to the abortion clinic?

Some repeat aborters also seem to often come from families for whom abortion is common. Their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, cousins, and female partners of family members will also have a history of repeat abortion.

The most recent data from the CDC is in their 2001 Abortion Surveillance Summary, released in 2004. Their table indicates that 25.5% of women undergoing abortions had already had one induced abortion, 10.8% had two prior abortions, 7.5% had three prior abortions, and 1.4% (8,795) had four or more prior abortions. Only 54.6%, slightly more than half, were undergoing a first abortion. This is a far cry from the situation in 1973, when about 12% of aborting women reported prior abortions.

For further reading, both prolife and prochoice, on repeat abortions, I've gathered these links. I don't necessarily agree with the author's opinions or conclusions, but I present them as a broad range of thought on the issue:

No comments: