Sunday, October 23, 2011

Most Abortions Are By Moms Who Think the Next Kid Will Costs Too Much

More than 2/3rds of women who have abortions are already mothers.  The main reason they give for their abortion is that they want to give more to the children they already have.

Bryan Caplan points out in Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids that much of the huge effort and expense that middle-class parents think they have to put into each child is unnecessary.

This suggests to me that if middle-class parents could reduce their anxiety about what another child would cost them, we would significantly reduce the abortion rate.


April G. said...

It is another way of saying most abortions are for birth control. It is even sadder when you think of it that way.

gruntled said...

Abortions are by definition for birth control (with the possible exception of when the pregnancy threatens the mother's life).

Solomon Kleinsmith said...

Sad stuff. I can't tell you how many gals I've run into in my dating life that just aren't at all open to having kids. It's a cultural thing, seeing kids as a hindrance between them and the life they want.

Kelly said...

I'm with you on agreeing with Bryan Caplan, but I'm not sure I agree that reducing middle-class parenting anxiety re:cost would lower abortion rates, and I definitely don't think any change would be significant.
I'm not saying there isn't aniety about the cost of raining kids- the absolutly is (understandably,) or that there isn't a disturbing amount of misguided, excess spending by middle-class parents. I just can't imagine that there are a significant number of mothers who get pregnant after having one child, who have abortions, and whose only reason for not wanting another child is a mistaken belief that they cannot afford one. That is, I would like to know how many of those women are happily married to the father of her child and the fetus, otherwise stable in their relationships inside and outside of marriage, and are aborting out of pressure to compete with their peers in terms of material good provided to children (or even valid outlays like tuition.)
The Slate author cited a study that says most women who cite finances as a reason for abortion are seriously struggling financially, so I don't know that changing perceptions about the cost of raising a child in middle-class families would lower abortion rates. She also touches on how much of it is tied to public perception. If I am a mother, and I have an abortion, of course I'm going to try to make it sound as altruistic as possible (keeping resources for my child, not having a child I couldn't fully support, emotionally or financially,) but I don't know how closely self response to that question would mirror actual motivations.
What interests me most in the Guttmacher study is the number of women over 35 who have given birth and had a previous abortion who have a second abortion. 61% of women over 35 who had abortions had also given birth and had a previous abortion, and only 5% of women over 35 had never been pregnant before. The study cautions against thinking these women are using abortion as a "mean of birth control," instead suggesting that it's simply a result of age, that as women age there is a "prolonged exposure to the risk of unintended pregnancy." And here I was thinking that, outside of the small possibility of properly used contraceptives actually failing, I am very much in control of whether or not I get pregnant. They make it sound like getting pregnant is like getting the flu- a risk you can't help but be exposed to if you leave the house.
I've always been pro-choice, but I consider it something of a mulligan when healthy women get pregnant during consentual sex. For the 95 percent of women over 35 who have abortions who have been pregnant in the past, and the 65 percent who have had both a child and an abortion in the past, especially, I agree there should be some education going on, but I don't think it has anything to do with finances. I have yet to be convinced that abortion rates will be significantly lowered by a change in anything except the rate of unwanted pregnancies, and I don't thing unwanted pregnancy is prevented by anything other than sex education that includes mechanics, equipment, and a realistic discussion of motivations for having sex as well as its benefits and ramifications.

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