Younger women, blacks and women with a high number of recent life disruptions are more likely than their counterparts to get second-trimester abortions, a new study from the Guttmacher Institute finds.
The research focuses on a relatively small group of American women, those who end pregnancies after the first trimester, which lasts 12 weeks. As of 2006, 88 percent of abortions occurred before the end of the first trimester, making second-trimester abortions relatively rare. These later abortions, however, are more expensive, more difficult to come by, and carry more medical risk than earlier procedures, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization.
To get more comprehensive information, Guttmacher Institute researchers surveyed 9,493 abortion patients at 95 hospitals and clinics across the country in 2008, weighting the data to create a nationally representative sample of abortion patients. They queried the women on demographic factors like race, poverty, education and marital status, as well as asking them about domestic violence, health insurance, and recent disruptive life events, including unemployment, serious medical problems and death or illness among friends and family.
They then focused on women who had abortions after 13 weeks. Within that group, they compared women who had 13-to-15-week abortions with those who had abortions after 16 weeks.
"We kept seeing all these discussions of second-trimester abortions and attempts to limit abortions by trimester," Guttmacher senior research associate Rachel Jones told LiveScience. "It dawned on us that we didn't know anything about this population."