Sunday, March 12, 2006

SJR127 - related statistics and info

Thus far, I haven't responded to the Senate's 24 to 9 approval of SJR127, which would amend the state constitution to include the statement, Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. I wanted to take some time to find information on how many women might be affected, and this took a little digging. I think these statistics are interesting to compare to the tendency to focus on late term or abortion-as-birth control, and the focus on abortion as an issue for young, single women. I like numbers, and thought they might be interesting to some of you as you look at this issue.

This report (PDF) from the Tennessee Department of Health provides statistics on induced abortions in 2004. Among the findings:

  • Total: 13,902 induced abortions in 2004. Tennessee's estimated female population in 2004 was 2,955,610 (American FactFinder TN sheet).
    Translation: 0.47% of TN women had abortions in 2004. If we look at women only 18+ (voting age) and safely subtract women over 65 (presumably most are no longer capable of pregnancy), that figure is 0.74%.

  • Marital status: married-17.8%; not married-80.5%; unknown-1.7%
    Translation: Abortion isn't just an issue for single women, given that almost 1 in 5 getting abortions are married.

  • Number of previous induced abortions: zero-58.2%; one-25.5%; two-10%; three-3.6%; four or more-2.2%
    Translation: The majority of women who had abortions in 2004 had never had one before.

  • Gestational age: less than 7 weeks-28.1%; 7-8 weeks-34.5%; 9-10 weeks-17.0%; 11-12 weeks-12.8%; 13-14 weeks-3.6%; 15-16 weeks-1.2%; 17-20 weeks-1.2%; unknown-1.5%
    Translation: 92.4% of abortions in Tennessee occur in the first trimester. The majority (62.6%) occur by 8 weeks.

  • Of those having abortions with a known age between 10 and 44 years (13,849): 99 were 10-14 (0.71%), 778 were 15-17 (5.61%), 1,370 were 18-19 (9.9%), 4,744 were 20-24 (34.3%), 3,374 were 25-29 (24.4%), 2,090 were 30-34 (15.1%), 1,049 were 35-39 (7.6%), and 345 were 40-44 (2.5%).
    Translation: 93.7% of women having abortions in 2004 were 18 or older. The image below uses data from the health department report to compare each age group's percentage of women getting abortions in 2004 to their percentage of the TN population of women in those age ranges (click on the image to see a larger version). Women 20-34 have the largest gaps between their percentage of the population and percentage of those having abortions.
    Also, according to a TBI report on 2004 crime in the state, there were 2,258 reports of forcible rape. Of these, 2,231 victims were women, with 935 under age 18, 527 were 18-24, 372 were 25-34, 83 were 45-54, 21 were 55-64, 9 were over 64, and 45 were of unknown age. The figure below uses this data in conjunction with the Dept of Health data to compare each age group's percentage of women getting abortions in 2004 to their percentage of the TN population of women in those age ranges and each age groups percentage of victims of reported forcible rapes of women in the 2004 TBI report. Keep in mind that the number of reported rapes is thought to be much lower than the actual number of incidents.
    I don't think it's a surprise that something other than rape is driving at least some of the abortion statistics. I think Rosalind Kurita had it right when (according to Egalia) she said in the SJR hearing that "the way to prevent abortions is to eradicate poverty and provide childcare." I would add comprehensive sex education, access to healthcare, and reducing violence against women to that list. As long as women feel that they have no other options, abortion will be an option they choose, legal or not.

    Other bloggers say (with thanks to Brittney for finding most of these):
    Tennessee Guerrilla Women - Rabid TN Senate Says Yes to Abortion Ban
    Tiny Cat Pants - And Then There Were Nine
    Right Minded - Overworked and Misunderstood
    Tabula Rasa - The Uterus Tangent
    Secret Cables to the World - My Choices are no Longer My Own
    Moore Thoughts - A New Mineral - Absurdium (in which Nathan Moore calls modern liberal women "self-loathing")
    Liberadio - SJR127 Passed
    CE Petro at KnoxViews - TN SJR127 - It Affects Men Also
    Thoughts of an Average Woman - TN Women to be Under a Misogynist Thumb
    The Narrow - Tennessee to Remove the "Right" to Abortion

    Want to keep up with the flood of proposed legislation related to women's reproductive rights? NARAL (a pro-choice organization) has a State Bill Tracker online. One item I was not aware of was SB333, which would have prohibited abortion after 5 weeks except where the woman's life was endangered (no exceptions for health, rape, incest, etc.). The bill status (which is rather vague) says it has been taken off notice for the Senate Judiciary Committee, so perhaps it has been dropped. How many women even realize they're pregnant at 5 weeks? Republican Jeff Miller was responsible for this piece of proposed legislation.

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    MeSH Tags: Abortion/legislation and jurisprudence

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