Destigmatizing Abortion: Who Actually Has Abortions?

Hey there! If you care about abortion access—and we hope you do—you probably don’t want to use stigmatizing language about abortion. But a lot of us can make this mistake in our advocacy journey.

Today, let’s talk about who actually gets abortions, according to the research!

If you close your eyes, I’m sure you can picture the “generic abortion patient.” And from the way we talk about it and the stories we uplift, you would think the people most likely to seek abortion care are teenage girls who have experienced trauma. And depending on your persuasion, maybe she is also blamed for “using abortion as birth control” or seeking an abortion later in pregnancy… which has slut shaming and abortion stigma written all over it. 

But while teens are most definitely still a subset of patients, actually, these days they’re not the main group of people who seek abortion care—it’s moms!

According to research, the typical abortion patient today already has children, is in her late 20s, has finished some college, and is low income. And we also know the main reason parents choose not to have more kids is because they cannot afford any more children or don’t feel they have the capacity to parent another child.

This not only is a signal of the failure of our systems—because everyone who wants a child should be able to have one and have the support they need to raise them—but paints a totally new picture of who gets an abortion and why. This is in direct opposition to what the anti-abortion movement wants you think and highlights where restrictions on abortion access impact those who seek it out most often!

When anti-abortion lawmakers allow “exceptions” if a patient has been violated, or make sure folks on state-funded health insurance can’t get abortions, that bars the most common demographic of abortion care patients from accessing the care they need. They want you to think of abortion as rare or a “worst case scenario” to give their restrictions more validity, but remember, there is no reasonable restriction on abortion access.

We also need to remember that one in four women will have an abortion in their lifetime, which doesn’t even count all the folks across the gender spectrum who ALSO get abortions. The abortion patient is far from a monolith, and just like any other medical procedure, people of all walks of life will need this health care to be available to them. So as you talk with your community about why you fight for abortion access, remember that abortion care isn’t a last resort—it’s an essential health care procedure we all need access to to live full and healthy lives.