Religious Women are Having the Most Abortions

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The following was originally published in SHERO on May 18, 2019:

One in four women in the United States will have an abortion by age 45 and 73% of American voters do not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned. So not just adults or women, but nearly three-fourths of actual voters believe that a woman should have access to a safe and legal abortion in her first three months of pregnancy.

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The Statistics

Abortion opponents participate in a rally preceding the "March for Life" where tens of thousands of Pro-Life supporters rallied in Washington, D.C. on the anniversary of the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, demanding an end to legal abortion in the United States. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/via Getty Images)

The Pew Research Center estimates that 70.6% of Americans consider themselves to be Christians, with 14.7% considering themselves Mainline Protestant, 20.8% Catholic, and 25.4% Evangelical Protestant. The Evangelical number happens to closely match the percentage of those who would like to overturn Roe. Conservatives think they have mostly white women in their party behind them on the issue of abortion restrictions that limit Roe v. Wade, but they’re wrong.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, white women made up the majority of women having abortions in 2014 in terms of race, and religious women made up the majority in terms of faith. White women accounted for 39% of abortion procedures in 2014, as compared to blacks at 28%, Hispanics at 25% and patients of other races and ethnicities at 9%. Additionally, 54% of women that year reported an affiliation with religion compared to 38% who reported no religious affiliation and 8% reporting some other religious affiliation.

Of the total number of women having abortions in 2014, 24% were Catholic, 17% identified as mainline Protestant and 13% were Evangelical, compared to 38% who reported no religious affiliation at all.

I also find it hard to believe that all of the women reporting in these surveys would so willingly disclose their religion at the time of an abortion. This makes me think that if these results are skewed at all based on intentional misinformation, it would be to hide a strict religious affiliation and if anything, those Catholic numbers could be even higher. 

What Does This Mean 

A Pro-life activist (front right) stands silently before a group of pro-choice activists in front of the U.S. Supreme Court January 23, 2006, in Washington, DC, while thousands of people took part in the annual “March for Life” event to mark the 33rd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion. (Photo by Alex Wong/via Getty Images)

Conservatives think they have mostly white women in their party behind them on the issue of abortion restrictions that limit Roe v. Wade, but they’re wrong. Statistics show that these women are actually using abortion services. These are the women who are utilizing the services of clinics such as Planned Parenthood, even though they claim to be Pro-Life and vote for Republicans.

Conservative women may cast a red ballot against abortion when a confidential and safe abortion is still easily accessible to them. But if restrictions like those found in the recent Heartbeat Bills actually go through, or worse are put into law by the Supreme Court, everything will change. Women who once supported the agenda of the Christian Right, who pretended abortion limitations never affected them, will be changing all of their secretive behavior. That includes who they vote for in private and who they donate to in private.

Pro-Life marchers participate in the "March for Life” in Washington, DC, on the anniversary of the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, demanding an end to legal abortion in the United States. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/via Getty Images)

I’m sure many of us have friends who have had secret abortions, I do. Statistics prove we have had one, or know several people who have had one or more. Think about how many of those people, who have obtained safe and legal abortions, would consider themselves conservative or religious.

How many have voted for Republicans or support the GOP agenda overall? How many reversed their stance on abortion secretly the minute they needed an abortion? You may not even know that some of your more conservative friends even had one because of the intense secrecy surrounding it. This happens more than people realize because of the denial involved with the experience, especially for religious or conservative women.

Pro-life protesters clash with pro-choice protesters in front of the US Supreme Court on a day where two important decisions on immigration and affirmative action were handed down by the court, on June 23, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Allison Shelley/via Getty Images)

My goal in this is not to out the hypocrisy of the behavior, but to point out that these women who are statistically procuring abortions at a rate higher than most, will do when access really becomes threatened. The hypocrisy is something that conservative males are not factoring into regarding the fight ahead and is the reason this issue has turned and will continue to turn so sharply with abortion rights being threatened.

More importantly, the male anti-abortion zealots, who claim to love the sanctity of life but have no regard for women’s lives, won’t know what hit them when they see the real truth in the numbers.


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Amee Vanderpool writes the SHERO Newsletter and is an attorney, published author, contributor to newspapers and magazines, and analyst for BBC radio. She can be reached at avanderpool@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @girlsreallyrule.

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