Report: Higher Rates of Unintended Pregnancy, Abortion Among Women of Color


An important new report by the
Kaiser Family Foundation

documents persistent disparities between white women and women of color
on a broad range of health indicators, including rates of diseases such
as diabetes, heart disease, AIDS and cancer. The report also documents
widespread disparities in access to health insurance and health screenings,
and finds that there are "racial and ethnic disparities in health
status and health care in every state in the nation, often disparities
that are quite stark." It finds, moreover, that "there is growing
evidence that social factors (e.g., income, education, occupation, neighborhoods,
and housing) are associated with health behaviors, access to health
care, and health outcomes."  

The new report provides further
strong evidence debunking claims by anti-abortion rights activists,
who, ignoring all other contextual factors, have long argued that high
abortion rates among minorities are the result of supposed aggressive
marketing by abortion providers to minority communities. In truth, as
the Guttmacher
Institute has pointed out repeatedly
,
abortion rates among racial and ethnic minorities – especially blacks
and Hispanics – are directly linked to their higher rates of unintended
pregnancy, which in turn reflect pervasive health disparities more generally.  

In an August 2008 opinion
piece in the
Philadelphia Inquirer
, Guttmacher Institute Board chair
Melissa Gilliam said the of high unintended
pregnancy and abortion rates among African Americans: "The root causes
are manifold: a long history of discrimination; lack of access to high-quality,
affordable health care; too few educational and professional opportunities;
unequal access to safe, clean neighborhoods; and, for some African Americans,
a lingering mistrust of the medical community."  

What can be done about entrenched
disparities in women’s health? Kaiser calls it a "formidable challenge"
that will "require an ongoing investment of resources from multiple
sectors that go beyond coverage and include strengthening the health
care delivery system, improving health education efforts, and expanding
educational and economic opportunities for women."  

In the context of high abortion
rates among women of color, Guttmacher
has argued
that
the fundamental question policymakers should be asking is not why women
of color have high abortion rates, but rather what can be done to help
them have fewer unintended pregnancies and achieve better health outcomes
more generally. Barriers to health care access, including financial
and geographic hurdles, remain a significant issue. For instance, many
women of color are unable to afford prescription birth control methods,
such as the IUD, that are highly effective over extended time periods
but have high up-front costs.  

Beyond access to affordable
contraceptives
,
however, other factors like dissatisfaction
with the quality of services and the methods themselves
may be at least as much an impediment
to consistent and correct contraceptive use. There is increasing recognition
that quality of care plays a major role in health-seeking behavior and
health outcomes.  Dissatisfaction with health care providers, a
problem often made worse by cultural or linguistic barriers, can lead
to frustration and poor follow-through on contraceptive use. Unstable
life situations, in which consistent use of contraceptives is a lower
priority than simply getting by, can also be a factor.  

It’s a complex challenge,
but one thing is clear: By continuing to label abortion providers as
"racists" and refusing to support expanded access to contraceptive
services anti-abortion rights activists are by no means part of the
solution – to high rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion among
racial and ethnic minorities or to persistent and tragic disparities
in health care generally.

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  • progo35

    We all know that social factos are the cause of the higher abortion rate among African American women. ALl the report does is reiterate that and all this article does is ignore the actual argument made by some in the pro life community: that the abortion industry is taking advantage of these social issues by locating themselves in minority neighborhoods and encouraging abortion as the answer to poverty and social inequality.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • jodi-jacobson

    Do you believe women of color or women living in minority neighborhoods or women of lower income status have no ability to make their own decisions about pregnancy, reproduction and childbirth, including whether or not to continue an unintended pregnancy to term?

     

    Do you believe women of color, minority and/or low-income women have no need for the wide range of reproductive health services–regular check-ups, pap smears, testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, pre-natal and well-pregnancy care and other services offered by clinics that also may offer abortion services to those who choose to terminate an unintended pregnancy? 

    Is it your point to say that because a clinic located in a low-income neighborhood offering affordable services, including an aspect of reproductive health care to which you personally object but they do not that they have no personal agency in making decisions for themselves about what is needed?

    This type of assumption that women of any race or ethnicity or income level have no moral or individual agency in making decisions and choosing what is best for them is racism in itself, disguised in a "pro-life"/anti-choice guise.  There is no evidence for your claims, so this is the only conclusion I can draw.

    Jodi Jacobson

    • progo35

      Of course I believe that every woman is capable of making her own decisions, regardless of her circusmtances. However, it is a fact that our society sets African American women up to feel that abortion is their only good option and that setting up clinics that spread the message of, "abortion will get you out of poverty" and "you can’t afford a child right now" while offering little, if any help in actually raising a child, contribute to this phenomenon. 

       

       

      "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • invalid-0

    Of course women of color make their own decisions. There is nothing more frusterating that a person who pretends to be confused so he/she can pretend to be offended. The problem is that they and their families are aggressivly targeted by anti family organizations such as planned parenthood. Remember several years ago when oxy contin first came out? The drug was agressivly pushed in coal mining communities in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee etc. The reason was that coal miners frequently suffer from back and neck pain. Once people began using it the life crippling addictions began and many communities were devestated. These are not wealthy communities. In some cases there was little that they could do to keep the rx makers from targeting their communities. Here the same is true. http://www.klannedparenthood.com

    • invalid-0

      < ...There is nothing more frusterating that a person who pretends to be confused so he/she can pretend to be offended....>

      Remove, therefore, the beam from thine own eye before looking at the mote in the eye of thy neighbor.

      Wor unto thee, Pharisees, hypocrites.

      • invalid-0

        Right, of course. That’s what I was thinking too except of course that I’m claiming neither confusion nor offense. Other than that methinks thee deserve an A for effort!!

        • invalid-0

          So get that beam out of your eye, already!

  • jodi-jacobson

    equate pushing an addictive drug to a population in need of real work-law reform and corporate reform and job and disability benefits (things with which coal miners are rarely provided) and the provision of needed basic primary health care services.

    Really, I find your insistence on ignoring the facts in itself to be offensive.

  • invalid-0

    Very much agreed, Jodi.

    cmarie, do you really care about communities of color? Are you truly concerned about the array of problems they face, and are not only pretending to do so in order to make a misguided attack on a family-planning service provider? Are you aware of what it is they have to deal with on a day-to-day basis, and how these problems often garner little attention (and funding) at the political level? Have you actually engaged with these communities, and state and local governments, to understand and help address these problems?

  • invalid-0

    Whether women of color are targeted or not, the Gutenmacher Institute states that black women receive 34% of all abortions. The national census statistics say blacks are 13% of the population. If their abortion rate continues, they will have no future. What a horrible loss.
    It irritates people to hear that one should have control over one’s passions but this is what women should be guided toward so they can have the control over their lives that they need to have instead of relying on methods which are harmful to their bodies and psyches.

  • invalid-0

    However, it is a fact that our society sets African American women up to feel that abortion is their only good option and that setting up clinics that spread the message of, “abortion will get you out of poverty” and “you can’t afford a child right now” while offering little, if any help in actually raising a child, contribute to this phenomenon.

    Family-planning clinics do family planning. You can’t expect Planned Parenthood or any other such entity to take on the responsibility of helping people raise their children. They have a hard enough time serving their core mission as it is.

    The people you want to talk to, are the ones who popularized the term “welfare queen”—and continue to whisper it whenever public policy that would help minorities with childraising comes up.

  • http://agiftbasket.info invalid-0

    That is obvious that social factors play important role in he whole life, including abortion and health care. When the society get rid of ethnofobes and racists then for sure there will be less of disparities.

  • http://france-grenoble.blogspot.com/ invalid-0

    At the crisis connected with pregnancy, people not in a condition to cope with physiological, social and psychological changes or the traumas connected with planning of a family, pregnancy, pregnancy interruption, a birth of the child and transformation into the parent.