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Abortion and Low Income: An Inverse Relationship

Abortion and Poverty Blog


Abortion and Low Income: An Inverse Relationship

By Marcia E. I Uddoh MD (candidate) Ph.D., MPH, MSW, MA

December 16, 2020

Abortion can be categorized differently; one critical consideration is income. More specifically, does income play a role in abortion decisions? What if poor women have abortions, not as a result of choice, but instead due to a low income. According to a 2014- 2018 study conducted by the Guttmacher Institute and reported in the American Journal of Public Health, which admits to a decline in abortion rates:

...women with incomes less than 100% of the federal poverty level, had the highest abortion rate of all the groups examined: 36.6. (Jones & Jerman, 2017)

The correlation between low income and high abortion rates widens the spectrum about abortion polemics. It is not a matter of pro-choice or pro-life; women are in a predicament where they cannot afford a baby they may want.

The challenge is to place the women's dilemma who cannot afford babies outside of the pro-life, pro-choice dialectic. Instead, dare to embrace our more human selves and confront the reality that poor women may have abortions because they cannot afford to have a baby they may want. The statistics reveal this plight:

In 2014, 49% of abortion patients had family incomes below 100% of the federal poverty level, a significant increase from 42% in 2008. (Jones & Jerman, 2017)

The next consideration is to place this atrocity into a broader sphere of ethics. Medically, a person can survive with one kidney; not an optimal choice, but a plausible one. As a result of stringent regulations and laws, it is illegal for people to sell their kidneys for financial gain in our society. In a bitter twist, 49% of women have chosen to abort their babies (Jones & Jerman, 2017), presumably due to a lack of finances.

As a global community, our response to this atrocity appears unconscionably unscrutinized. Before we become divided around certain die-hard stances, let us consider what we can do for these women, the least of which is to place their plight outside of the abortion rhetoric and into the space of tragedy at worst and ethics at best.


Jones, R. K., & Jerman, J. (2017). Population group abortion rates and lifetime incidence of abortion: United States, 2008–2014. American Journal of Public Health, 107(12), 1904-1909.

Marcia Uddoh (c) 2020  

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