Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 1997. SD 4.6 Abortion among teens

04/01/1997

The proportion of teen females aged 15-19 who obtained an abortion during the previous year increased from 2.3 to 4.4 percent between 1973 and 1985, presumably influenced both by the legalization of abortion and increasing levels of sexual activity and pregnancy (see Table SD 4.6.A). By 1991, the proportion obtaining abortions had dropped to 3.8 percent. Similar patterns occurred among both younger teens (ages 15-17) and older teens (ages 18-19).

There has not been a steady trend in the propensity of pregnant teens to give birth versus obtaining an abortion over the past twenty years (see Figure SD 4.6). In 1972, the proportion of pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) to females aged 15-19 which ended in birth was 76 percent. During the rest of the 1970s this proportion declined as abortion increased. Throughout most of the 1980s, however, the proportion of teen pregnancies ending in birth remained fairly stable at around 55 percent. By 1992, there was an increase to 63 percent in the proportion of teen pregnancies ending in birth, indicating a trend towards fewer abortions among pregnant teens.

Differences by Age. Older teens aged 18-19 are more likely to have had an abortion than are younger teens aged 15-17. In 1992, 2.3 percent of younger teens and 5.4 percent of older teens obtained an abortion.

Differences by Race.52 Black teens are more likely to have had an abortion than are their white and Hispanic peers. Among black females ages 15-19, 8.1 percent obtained an abortion in 1991, compared to 2.8 percent
of non-Hispanic white and 4.0 percent of Hispanic females (see Table SD 4.6.B).

Sexually Experienced Teens. The percent of teens who are sexually experienced has increased during the past several decades and, therefore, it is reasonable to consider abortion in light of this trend. When abortion rates are calculated among females aged 15-19 who have ever had intercourse, the data indicate that the proportion obtaining abortions increased from 5.9 percent in 1973 to 9.1 percent in 1980, then declined to
6.8 percent in 1991. Although a larger proportion of teen females were sexually experienced in 1990 than in 1980, a smaller proportion of these sexually experienced teens obtained abortions.
 

Figure SD 4.6  
Percentage of Pregnancies Among Females Aged 15-19 Ending in Birth and Abortion: 1972-1992 

SD4_6.GIF

Note: Pregnancies do not include miscarriage.

Source: Alan Guttmacher Institute. (1991) Sex and Americas Teenagers, New York, NY: Alan Guttmacher Institute, Figure 33. Based on birth data from the National Center for Health Statistics and abortion data from the Alan Guttmacher Institute; Ventura, S.J., Taffel, S.M., Mosher, W.D., Wilson, J.B., and Henshaw, S., Trends in Pregnancies and Pregnancy Rates: Estimates for the United States, 1980-92. Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 43, No. 11(S), May 25, 1995; and, unpublished data from S. Ventura, National Center for Health Statistics.
 

Table SD 4.6.A 
Abortion: Percentage of Teen Females Obtaining an Abortion During the Year, by Age Group: Selected Years, 1973-1992

                     
     
1973
1975
1980
1985
1990
1991
 
1992
     
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
All Females Aged 14 or Lessa
0.6
0.7
0.8
0.9
0.8
0.7
0.8
All Females Aged 15 - 17
1.9
2.4
3
3.1
2.7
2.4
2.3
All Females Aged 18 - 19
2.9
4.2
6.1
6.2
5.8
5.6
5.4
All Females Aged 15 - 19
2.3
3.1
4.3
4.4
4
3.8
3.6
Sexually Experienced 
Females Aged 15-19
5.9
7.5
9.1
8.5
7.3
6.8
n/a
 
Note: aDenominator is females aged 14. 
Data for sexually experienced teens for 1985 were interpolated from 1980 and 1988 data. Data for sexually experienced teens are not available for 1992.
Sources: Data for 1973 and 1975 are from Henshaw, S.K. (1994). U.S. "Teenage Pregnancy Statistics." New York, NY: Alan Guttmacher Institute; Alan Guttmacher Institute 1994. "Sex and Americas Teenagers." New York, NY: Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1994; Based on data from abortion providers and sexual experience data from the National Survey of Family Growth. Data for 1980 - 1991 based on calculations from Ventura, S.J., Taffel, S.M., Mosher, W.D., Wilson, J.B., and Henshaw, S.K. (1995). Ventura, S.J., Taffel, S.M., Mosher, W.D., Wilson, J.B., and Henshaw, S. "Trends in Pregnancies and Pregnancy Rates: Estimates for the United States, 1980-92," Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Volume 43, No. 11(S), May 25, 1995 and unpublished tabulations from Ventura, Mosher and Henshaw.

 
 

Table SD 4.6.B 
Abortion: Percentage of Teen Females Obtaining an Abortion During the Year, by Age and Race/Ethnicity: 1990 and 1991

       
1990
1991
       
 
 
All Females Aged 15-17
2.7
2.4
  White, Non-Hispanic
2.1
1.8
  Black, Non-Hispanic
5.8
5.5
  Hispanic
2.4
2.5
           
All Females Aged 18-19
5.8
5.6
  White, Non-Hispanic
4.7
4.3
  Black, Non-Hispanic
11.7
11.6
  Hispanic
6
6.3
           
All Females Aged 15-19
4
3.8
  White, Non-Hispanic
3.2
2.8
  Black, Non-Hispanic
8.4
8.1
  Hispanic
3.9
4
           
Source: Ventura, S.J., Taffel, S.M., Mosher, W.D., Wilson, J.B., and Henshaw, S. "Trends in Pregnancies and Pregnancy Rates: Estimates for the United States, 1980-92." Monthly Vital Statistics Report. Vol. 43, No. 11 (S), May 25, 1995.

 

52 Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races.
 
 

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