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Report: Unplanned Pregnancies on the Rise Among the Poor

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August 29, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The number of unintended pregnancies among poor women in Ohio and across the country is on the rise, according to a new report by the New York-based Guttmacher Institute. It finds that while only about 5 percent of women ages 15 to 44 have an unintended pregnancy, the rate has increased dramatically among the poor.

The analysis of data reported from 1994 to 2006 found that the overall rate of unintended pregnancies has remained flat in the U.S., but increased dramatically for poor and low-income women and dropped for wealthier women - in fact, the rate for poor women was more than five times the rate for women in the highest income level. The research also found the high rate among poor women existed regardless of their age, education, race or marital status.

Mike Brickner, communications and public policy director with the ACLU of Ohio, says income is the biggest factor in access to family planning services.

"Whether or not you have insurance coverage and whether or not you are near a center that provides some sort of contraception or abortion services are dictated by your income."

Brickner says policies are needed to improve the reproductive health outcomes for all women. In Ohio, the Ohio Prevention First Act was introduced this summer in the House. It offers prevention provisions intended to reduce unintended pregnancies.

Brickner says an unintended pregnancy can delay the start of prenatal care and have a negative impact on the health of both mother and child. And an unplanned birth can sometimes result in the child not receiving adequate care, he warns.

"We want to make sure that children are born into homes where they are going to be taken care of and where women are able to have control over their own lives and their own reproductive health."

According to the study, nearly half of all pregnancies in 2006 were unintended. While some unplanned pregnancies are welcomed, 43 percent end in abortion.

The study is available at www.Guttmacher.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH