Unmet Need for Abortion in the United States

Stanley K. Henshaw, Guttmacher Institute
Rachel K. Jones, Guttmacher Institute

We examine the extent to which financial constraints prevent low-income women from obtaining abortions. We use data from several sources, including a nationally representative survey of abortion patients, a survey of state Medicaid agencies, and abortion incidence data. In 2000, 17% of abortions in states where Medicaid did not pay for abortion services were to women enrolled in Medicaid compared to 24% in Medicaid-funding states. We estimate that 33,000 additional abortions would have occurred if Medicaid paid for abortion services in all 50 states. Not all poor women are covered by Medicaid and most lack private health insurance. We estimate there would have been an additional 50,000 abortions in 2000 if poor women without Medicaid or private insurance had not been deterred by the cost. The number of abortions in 2000 would have been 6% higher in the absence of financial constraints.

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Presented in Session 21: Fertility, Politics and Public Policy