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Unintended pregnancy rate rises among poor women, study says

August 24, 2011|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Unintended pregnancy rates are rising among poor women and falling among higher-income women
Unintended pregnancy rates are rising among poor women and falling among… (Kevork Djansezian / Getty…)

Unintended pregnancies make up almost half of all pregnancies in the U.S. But a new study shows that rates are rising among poor women and declining  among women with adequate economic resources.

The report, released Wednesday by researchers at the Guttmacher Institute, reviews data from 1994 through 2006. The unintended pregnancy rate among women with incomes below the poverty line rose 50% in that time period. Among higher-income women, the rate fell 29%.

Researchers found that poor women have higher unintended pregnancy rates regardless of their education, race, ethnicity, marital status or age.

The statistics "show that marriage is not, in and of itself, a solution to the problems women have in controlling their fertility: In fact, poor women who are married have unintended pregnancy rates more than twice as high as those of higher-income women who are unmarried or cohabiting," the authors wrote.

About 43% of unintended pregnancies end in abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

The issue of access to contraceptive services has been center stage this summer with debates over funding to Planned Parenthood clinics. Access to healthcare services is key in lowering the rate of unintended pregnancies, Guttmacher Institute President Sharon Camp said in a new release.

The report is published online and will appear in print in a future issue of the journal Contraception.

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