The Economy and Abortion

I have written about the importance of social and economic support for women and vulnerable families as effective solutions to lowering the abortion rate. And, it's not surprising that the opposite is also true - that the lack of support increases the abortion rate. A story in the Chicago Tribune this week began:

As the economy worsens, providers of reproductive services say they are fielding more calls from distraught women facing difficult decisions about pregnancies they didn't plan and can't afford. The interviews also suggest that more women are struggling to afford contraception...

It went on to note that

Abortion rates have been declining for years, and experts said it is too early to know if the nation's financial woes will change that trend. ... But Planned Parenthood of Illinois says that in January it performed the highest number of abortions in its history.

The piece has several heart-rending stories of what more and more women and families are facing, as they cannot afford contraception and when they become pregnant cannot afford either another child or an abortion. In that situation, faith-based crisis pregnancy counseling organizations, adoption agencies, and clinics that provide free contraceptives are also reporting increased calls for help but too often cannot meet the demand. As the economy continues to decline, assisting women facing these situations with practical steps including greater access to contraception, health care, adoption reform, and pre-and postnatal care are more important than ever if we are serious about reducing the number of abortions.

Jim Wallis is the author of The Great Awakening, Editor-in-Chief of Sojourners and blogs at

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