Race, Class and Unplanned Pregnancies

Flickr: Trevor Bair

A recent study from the Guttmacher Institute found that while the overall rate of unintended pregnancies hasn’t changed, there are considerable disparities between the percentage of unplanned pregnancies experienced by wealthy and poor women in America.

Researchers also found a widening gap based on race and income. African-American women had the highest unintended pregnancy rate — more than twice as high as non-Hispanic white women.

Also, the rate of unintended pregnancies among low-income women rose, leading the researchers to conclude: “the rate for poor women was more than five times the rate for women in the highest income level.”

And about those women with higher incomes:

In contrast to the high rates among certain groups, some women in the United States are having considerable success timing and spacing their pregnancies. Higher-income women, white women, college graduates and married women have relatively low unintended pregnancy rates (as low as 17 per 1,000 among higher-income white women—one-third the national rate of 52 per 1,000), suggesting that women who have better access to reproductive health services, have achieved their educational goals or are in relationships that support a desired pregnancy are more likely than other women to achieve planned pregnancies and avoid those they do not want.

In the United States, almost half of all pregnancies are unintended. The Guttmacher Institute discovered a sobering fact; despite educational achievement, marital status, race or age, lower-income women still have higher rates of unplanned pregnancies. There was a 50 percent increase in the number of unintended pregnancies among women whose incomes were below the federal poverty line. Meanwhile, the rate of unplanned pregnancy among wealthier women decreased by 29 percent over the same period of time.