Study: Contraceptive Use, Multiple Partners Linked to Higher Rate of Abortion

Penny Starr | January 15, 2014 | 10:32am EST
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Abortion clinic (AP Photo/Chris Sherman)

( - A new report released by the Family Research Council (FRC) on the demographics of abortion in the United States reveals that when and if a woman undergoes the procedure once or more is tied directly to chastity, monogamy and the use of contraceptives.

The report shows that more than 99 percent of women who have had one or more abortions have used contraceptives.

It also shows that 34 to 38 percent of women who became sexually active as young girls (12 or younger, 13, or 14) have had an abortion, while six percent of women who had intercourse for the first time at age 20 or later have had an abortion.

“There’s a huge relationship between the earlier one starts being sexually active and the more likely things are going to go wrong, including undergoing an abortion,” said Patrick Fagan, director of FRC’s Marriage and Religion Research Institute and co-author of the report with Scott Talkington, research director for the National Association of Scholars and Senior Research Fellow at George Mason University School of Public Policy.

The number of sexual partners a woman has also is tied to higher rates of abortion, according to the data.

“The fraction of women aborting is far larger among women with multiple sexual partners than among monogamous women,” the report stated. “Forty to 50 percent of women who have 10 or more (male) sexual partners have had an abortion, while ‘only’ 6 percent of those who are monogamous (one male sexual partner) have had an abortion.

Almost 90 percent of abortions are procured by women who have had three or more (male) sexual partners, the report found.

The report also revealed that a woman’s attendance at religious services also contributed to a lower rate of abortion – 30.6 percent of women who never attended a religious service have had one or more abortions while those who attend services weekly account for 12.7 percent of abortions.

Fagan said a “common sense” conclusion is clear based on the data.

“Increase chastity in teen years, increase marriage, increase worship of God, decrease the number of sexual partners – the numbers suggest all of these behaviors will reduce the need for and number of abortions,” Fagan said.

Fagan also said he hopes the report will shape the national debate on abortion by showing the relationship between culture and abortion rates.

“We should be talking about how delaying sexual activities, monogamy and religious practice can reduce abortion in the United States,” Fagan said.

The report, “Demographics of Women Who Have Had An Abortion,” is based on 2006-2010 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics, which compiles the annual National Survey of Family Growth. The population analyzed in the report is 12,279 females age 15 to 44 who responded to the survey.

Fagan said he hoped the report would spark research in this area.

And he said there is a bit of “good news” that seems to contradict the common perception that low-income and less-educated people are more likely to have an abortion.

“The good news on this is that there is not much difference across income,” Fagan said. “If anything, the poor are less inclined to abort, if this survey is to be taken into account.

“Those who drop out at 9th grade or earlier have the lowest rate of abortion,” Fagan said.

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