Abortion Poverty Study Finds Link Between Lack Of Access And Income

Protesters opposed to abortion hold placards outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Thursday, 18, 2012
Protesters opposed to abortion hold placards outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Thursday, 18, 2012. The first abortion clinic on the island of Ireland has opened in Belfast, sparking protests by Christian conservatives from both the Catholic and Protestant sides of Northern Ireland’s divide. The Marie Stopes center plans to offer the abortion pill to women less than nine weeks pregnant _ but only if doctors determine they’re at risk of death or long-term health damage from their pregnancy. That’s the law in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, where abortion is otherwise illegal. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Women who attempted to get abortions but were denied are three times as likely to fall into poverty than those whose efforts were not blocked, a recent study conducted by researchers at University of California San Francisco found.

UCSF's Bixby Center on Global Reproductive Health examined 3,000 interviews conducted with over 1,000 women from across the United States who had either received abortions or were turned away because their pregnancies had already passed the clinic's gestational limit. The study aimed to determine the effects carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term had on women's mental, physical and socio-economic health.

Researchers found that a year after seeking an abortion, more than three-quarters of the women turned away were on public assistance and 67 percent were below the poverty line. Fewer than half of those turned away held a full-time job.

Figures dropped significantly for the women who received abortions.

"When a woman is denied the abortion she wants, she is statistically more likely to wind up unemployed, on public assistance, and below the poverty line," lead researcher Dr. Diana Greene Foster explained to io9. "Another conclusion we could draw is that denying women abortions places more burden on the state because of these new mothers' increased reliance on public assistance programs."

Research also revealed that one of the main reasons women sought abortions in the first place was monetary: 45 percent were on some form of public assistance and two-thirds had incomes below the federal poverty line.

Of the women who were unable to get abortions, only eleven percent had put their children up for adoption by a year following the birth.

The study found no correlation between the desire to seek an abortion and drug use, although it did uncover a strong link between a willingness for women to say in an abusive relationship and being denied abortion access. While turnaways were more likely to remain in relationships with the child's father, they were also more likely to have experienced domestic abuse in the past six months and were less likely to feel positively about their relationship.

The researchers are now seeking to replicate this study on a global scale to learn about effects of being denied an abortion in countries stretching from South America to the Indian sub-continent.

During the past decade, a significant number of states have made moves to restrict abortion access. In 2000, one-third of American women lived in states that experts deemed "solidly hostile to abortion rights." By 2011, that figure had jumped to more than 50 percent.

Abortion rates across the country have been steadily falling, according to a study published last year in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. Between 2000 and 2008, the number of abortions among women ages 15-44 dropped by eight percent.

This decrease was present across all groups except for women living in extreme poverty, whose rate of abortions increased by 18 percent over the same period.