The Guttmacher Institute, formerly affiliated with Planned Parenthood, has just released a long research study, “Secondary Measures of Access to Abortion Services in the United States, 2011 and 2012: Gestational Age Limits, Cost, and Harassment,” published in the journal, Women’s Health Issues. The study examines various factors that the authors, Jenna Jerman and Rachel K. Jones, believe “impact the accessibility of abortion.” Those factors include gestational age limits, charges for abortion services, and anti-abortion harassment. The authors received responses from 54% of the surveyed abortion facilities regarding gestational limits and from 80% regarding exposure to harassment.
From those limited responses, the bottom line is: “There was a substantial decline in abortion incidence between 2008 and 2011,” but the “secondary measures of abortion access” examined in the study changed very little.
Here are ten findings from the published report that are particularly interesting and revealing (in some instances quoting directly from the report, while in others summarizing the findings):
- Between 2008 and 2011, the abortion rate in the U.S. dropped 13% (from 19.4 to 16.9 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44).
- The number of abortion clinics declined by only 1% during the same time period (meaning the drop in abortions was not due exclusively to a decline in number of clinics).
- Almost all abortion facilities (95%) offered abortions at 8 weeks gestation; 72% offered abortions at 12 weeks, 34% at 20 weeks, and 16% at 24 weeks in 2012.
- In 2011 and 2012, the median charge for a surgical abortion at 10 weeks gestation was $495, and was $500 for an early medication abortion. (The cost in 2009 was $503 and $524, adjusted for inflation).
- In 2011, 84% of clinics experienced at least one form of harassment (slightly higher than in 2009).
- There are fewer facilities offering abortions and fewer abortions in the Midwest and South; these areas mostly do not allow Medicaid coverage of abortion for low-income women. Almost all of the 106 laws related to abortion restrictions adopted between 2008 and 2011 were in the Midwest and South.
- Abortion facilities in the Midwest and South are exposed to more harassment than those in Northeast and West. In 2009, 85% of abortion facilities in the Midwest and 75% in the South experienced harassment, compared with 48% in Northeast and 44% in the West. “Harassment” involved picketing (80%), phone calls (47%), and noise disturbances (18%). Physical contact and blocking of patients were listed as harassment, but significantly, no percentages were given. Clinics providing 1,000 or more abortions per year (!) had the most harassment (96%).
- Abortions at 20 weeks of gestation typically take two or more days to complete, and involve greater skill and resources. The median (Note: not average) charge for an abortion at 20 weeks of gestation in 2011 and 2012 was $1,350. (The cost ranges from $750 to $5,000).
- Abortion clinics provide the vast majority of abortions in all regions (89% to 98%), and physician offices provide the fewest.
- In 2012, 42 abortion restrictions were enacted, and another 70 abortion restrictions were enacted in 2013.
The Guttmacher Institute believes that “ongoing monitoring of abortion indicators is necessary to address disparities in access to reproductive health services.” They conclude their research with the following statement: “Ideally, policymakers will use this information to remove barriers to abortion care and proactively protect all women’s access to reproductive health care.”
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We at Concerned Women for America provide Guttmacher’s information to encourage pro-life activists, scholars, and researchers. It is obvious that hearts and minds are being changed, and strong evidence is accumulating that pro-abortion forces are struggling to survive in a culture that increasingly values life.
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