Study: Medicaid Data Casts Significant Doubt On Abortion As ‘Essential’ For Birth Spacing

Abortion advocates have insisted that abortion access is important for spacing children.
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - DECEMBER 1, 2018: A pregnant woman at the opening of the Pro9 Congress of Pregnant Women at Moscow's Academician Kulakov Research Centre of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Perinatology; the congress is aimed at bringing together doctors and other health professionals with young parents, women considering pregnancy, pregnant women, and parents with young children under 7. Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS
Mikhail TereshchenkoTASS via Getty Images

A new study analyzing Medicaid data casts doubt on the notion that abortion is “essential” for spacing children, as abortion advocates have insisted.

Among nearly five million Medicaid-eligible women who had at least one pregnancy, only 1% may have used abortion to space their children, according to a peer-reviewed study by scholars at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of the Susan B. Anthony List.

Out of 4,875,511 Medicaid-eligible women and girls over 13 included in the study, only 50,012 or 1.02% had undergone an abortion between live births, after their first child but before their last.

The study also found a racial disparity among women who had abortions between children — those who had an abortion between births are more likely to be black than white, but less likely to be Hispanic than white. Black women made up 19% of the study population but represented 37% of women with one or more abortions.

The study examined data from 1999 to 2014 in the 17 states where state funding covers all or nearly all abortions performed under their Medicaid programs, and identified abortions that occurred between births within up to 5 consecutive pregnancies.

Notably, women who had abortions between births did not lack access to counseling on contraception and were in fact more likely to have received such counseling, the study said.

“Birth spacing via abortion is uncommon among a low-income population for whom the financial barriers to abortion are somewhat alleviated,” the paper concluded.

The study, published Thursday in the Journal of Primary Care and Community Health, contradicts the line pushed by groups that promote abortion that abortion is an important means of spacing children.

The American Public Health Association has promoted “safe, legal, and affordable abortion care” as “essential” for “enabling healthy spacing of pregnancies.”

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has also promoted this notion, writing in a committee opinion on increasing abortion access that, “ACOG supports women’s right to decide whether to have children, the number and spacing of their children, and to have the information, education, and access to health services to make these choices”

“Policymakers would do well to look at the data and dispense with the old myth that abortion helps women ‘plan parenthood,'” said Charlotte Lozier Institute President Chuck Donovan. “For too long this line has been used to excuse abortion on-demand, through birth, funded by taxpayers. These pro-abortion policies fatten the abortion industry’s bottom line at the expense of vulnerable women and their children.”

James Studnicki, the study’s lead author, noted that not all women who had an abortion between children did so in order to space births, so the number of women using abortion for that purpose is likely even smaller than 1%.

“Despite the advocacy and promotion of abortion as essential to family planning and healthy birth spacing, the data proves it is extraordinarily rare when it is used that way,” Studnicki said.

In 2018, more than 619,500 abortions were performed in the U.S., according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. About 11 abortions were performed per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 and about 189 abortions per 1,000 live births.

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