African Americans and Abortion

African American women have 27.6% of all abortions in 2014 but make up less than 14.9% of the female population of the United States in 2014.  However, there are several factors that lead to these statistics and we are going to take a closer look at four of them: 

1. Unintended pregnancies

2. Relationships stability

3. Contraception use

4. Poverty

1. Unintended Pregnancies 

The number of abortions performed is directly related to the number of unintended pregnancies. Simply put, women who have unintended pregnancies are more likely to have abortions.  According to the The Guttmacher Institute report, The proportion of women experiencing an unintended pregnancy in 2014 and choosing to end it in abortion was higher among black women (50%) than among women in other racial and ethnic groups (which range 36–40%).

2. Relationship

There is a direct correlation between women who have abortions and their relationship with the men who made them pregnant. The Guttmacher Institute report Eighty-five percent of women having abortions were unmarried*, including 46% who were never married and 31% who were cohabiting.  In 2014 70% percent of Black women were not-married including the 48% who have never been married and excluding the 4% who were separated .  According to the CDC 91.8% of Black women having an abortion were not married compared to 85.3% of all woman having an abortion in 2015

Cohabiting women had a higher rate of unintended pregnancy compared with both unmarried noncohabiting women (141 vs. 36–54 per 1,000) and married women (29 per 1,000).2

3. Contraception Use

There is also a direct relationship between contraception use and unintended pregnancies.  Eighty-three percent of black women at risk of unintended pregnancy are currently using a contraceptive method, compared with 91% of their Hispanic and white peers, and 90% of their Asian peers.2

4. Poverty

Income is a big factor when it comes to abortion.  Women with family incomes less than 100% the federal poverty level accounted for almost half (49.4%) of all abortion patients in 2014, and this group had the highest abortion rate of all groups examined. According to the U.S Census Bureau Black females had a higher poverty rate at 28.5% in 2014 compared to all females at 16.8%.


In summary, African Americans are overrepresented when it comes to the number of abortions performed.  African Americans are also over represented in four of the major factors that lead to abortions; unintended pregnancies, relationships, lack of contraception use, and low Income.

SOURCES: Population Group Abortion Rates and Lifetime Incidence of Abortion: United States, 2008–2014 December 2017, Vol 107, No. 12 AJPH | U.S. Census Bureau, 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates | Guttmacher Institute | Abortion Surveillance — United States, 2015 – US Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention