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OBJECTIVE: To estimate abortion rates among subpopulations of women in 2008, assess changes in subpopulation abortion rates since 2000, and estimate the lifetime incidence of abortion.

METHODS: We combined secondary data from several sources, including the 2008 Abortion Patient Survey, the Current Population Surveys for 2008 and 2009, and the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth, to estimate abortion rates by subgroup and lifetime incidence of abortion for U.S. women of reproductive age.

RESULTS: The abortion rate declined 8.0% between 2000 and 2008, from 21.3 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 to 19.6 per 1,000. Decreases in abortion were experienced by most subgroups of women. One notable exception was poor women; this group accounted for 42.4% of abortions in 2008, and their abortion rate increased 17.5% between 2000 and 2008 from 44.4 to 52.2 abortions per 1,000. In addition to poor women, abortion rates were highest for women who were cohabiting (52.0 per 1,000), aged 20-24 (39.9 per 1,000), or non-Hispanic African American (40.2 per 1,000). If the 2008 abortion rate prevails, 30.0% of women will have an abortion by age 45.

CONCLUSION: Abortion is becoming increasingly concentrated among poor women, and restrictions on abortion disproportionately affect this population.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: III

(C) 2011 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.