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Fam Plann Perspect. 1987 Mar-Apr;19(2):76-7.

Unintended pregnancy among American women.



This research note presents new estimates of the proportion of American women of reproductive age who experience unintended pregnancies, unintended births and abortions. The data are based on tabulations from the 1982 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) and the Alan Guttmacher Institute's 1981-1982 national survey of abortion providers. Of 6.1 million women who became pregnant in 1982, 3.7 million gave birth, 1.6 million had abortions and 0.9 million experienced miscarriages. An estimated 37% of all births in the 5 years preceding the 1982 NSFG were unintended. Applying that proportion to 1982 births results in an estimate of 1.3 million unintended births. It can be assumed that all 1.6 million abortions were terminations of unintended pregnancies. Respondents in the 1982 NSFG reported that 40% of the births they had ever had were unintended. 33% of NSFG respondents said that they had had at least 1 unintended birth during their life. Abortions were seriously underreported in the NSFG, as they have been in most other surveys. Only 47% of the abortions that occurred during the period 1977-1981 were reported. The real proportion of women of reproductive age who have ever had an abortion appears to be 21%. 65% of all women aged 40-44 in 1982 had had at least 1 unintended pregnancy, and more than 1/3 of them had had at least 1 abortion. It is probably inappropriate to view these levels as representative of the proportions of today's young women who will ever experience an unintended pregnancy or abortion. Estimates of the proportion of women who will have had abortions by age 45 indicate that 18% of women will have had a 1st abortion by age 20; 41% will have had one by age 30; and 46%, by age 45.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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