Catholics are just as likely to get an abortion as other U.S. women. Why?

Women protesting against abortion in Boise, Idaho. (iStock/MivPiv)Women protesting against abortion in Boise, Idaho. (iStock/MivPiv)

Since 1973, no institution in the United States has been more firmly committed to protecting the unborn than the Catholic Church. Yet Catholics are just as likely to procure an abortion as other U.S. women. Why?

According to the latest numbers from the Guttmacher Institute, 24 percent of women who procure abortions identify as Catholic, almost the same as 22 percent of all U.S. women who called themselves Catholic in a 2014 survey by Pew Research Center. In the same sources, evangelical Protestants made up 27 percent of all women in the United States but only 13 percent of those who underwent abortions, revealing a greater reluctance toward choosing abortion, a greater reluctance toward revealing their religion on a survey or both.

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Each of the 59 million abortions in the United States since 1973 is a tragedy with its own chain of decision-making that denies easy characterization. But statistical analysis can shed light on some of the patterns that make Catholic women’s decisions to abort distinctive. To make the church’s pro-life efforts more effective, we need to recognize that the faces of Catholic women who choose abortion are not always what we may presume.

We need to recognize that the faces of Catholic women who choose abortion are not always what we may presume.

The Guttmacher Institute, formerly Planned Parenthood’s research arm, regularly surveys women on their decision to undergo an abortion. I looked at data from a 2002 national survey of 10,683 abortion-procuring women between the ages of 15 and 44. (More recent detailed data is not publicly available, but the broad demographic trends reported by Guttmacher, including the percentage of women getting abortions who are Catholic, have remained relatively stable, suggesting that the data on subgroups still have validity.) In this data set, 27 percent were Catholic, and of those, nearly 23 percent were married. In other words, one out of every 16 women procuring an abortion is married and Catholic.

This data suggests that the face of a Catholic woman choosing abortion is often not a scared college student or a single woman trying to reach career aspirations but instead a stretched-thin married mother with children at home. Her challenges require us to recognize that pro-life outreach should not just focus on college campuses or inner-city clinics but on middle-class suburban parishes as well.

The face of a Catholic woman choosing abortion is often not a scared college student but instead a stretched-thin married mother with children at home.

Compared with other women procuring abortions, Catholic women in the Guttmacher survey tended to be older; that is, Catholic women over 30 were overrepresented in women choosing abortion. Compared with other religious groups, they were more likely to be married, and thus had higher household incomes, and also were more likely to be at home rather than in the workforce. Unsurprisingly, given the demographics of Catholicism in the United States, there were proportionately more Hispanics and fewer blacks than in the U.S. population as a whole.

Catholic women obtaining abortions were also more likely to have previously given birth. Seventy-two percent of married Catholic women in this group had already given birth at least twice, compared with 62 percent of other married women. Roughly four out of 10 Catholic women filling out the survey were having an abortion for the first time (a bit higher than among other women) and, on average, underwent the procedure about a week earlier in their gestation than non-Catholic women.

Among unmarried women, Catholics were more likely (64 percent to 54 percent) to say they intend to have children in the future. But married Catholic women were just as likely as other married women to say they did not intend to have another child. (A caveat: This data does not break down responses by religious practice. According to a 2016 Pew survey, 51 percent of all Catholics believe having an abortion is “morally wrong,” but that encompasses 83 percent among those who attend Mass at least weekly and only 38 percent for less frequent attendees.)

An effective pro-life ministry should take these uncomfortable statistics into consideration. Knowing that many of the women who pursue abortion wish to have children in the future should inspire us to redouble our efforts to provide material andpolitical assistance to moms facing current financial difficulties. In Washington state, thePREPARES program, which combines prenatal support and social services, is a prime example of the church working creatively to provide real support to women from a broad range of backgrounds.

As the average age of first-time motherhood continues to climb, our conversations around choosing life should take greater account of older women facing “crisis” pregnancies. We should consider what complex forces might drive a married Catholic woman to obtain an abortion—perhaps financial constraints, fear of neglecting other children or their careers or avoiding the social stigma of having “too many” children. We need to acknowledge the uncomfortable reality that married Catholic women are not immune from the economic, family and social pressures that drive the decision to pursue an abortion. True accompaniment—and a true “culture of life”—means understanding the contributing factors that result in the tragic decision to choose abortion and working to mitigate or eliminate them.

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Michael Burke
9 months 3 weeks ago

this article says nothing, help nothing
and does not answer its own question
“why”

Tim O'Leary
9 months 3 weeks ago

Two points. The Guttmacher Institute is part of the Abortion-Industrial Complex and its statistics should be treated with skepticism as they are politically biased in the extreme . Second, as is seen on other articles recently published in this journal, self-identification of Catholicity (the SICs) is severely flawed, as it is more of a historical cultural marker than evidence of belief and practice. A Protestant prolifer is probably much closer to a Catholic in belief than a SIC, in terms of belief and practice.

Tim O'Leary
9 months 3 weeks ago

Third point. this year's Pew survey (from last week) has 85% of practicing Catholics (meaning weekly mass attenders) opposed to legal abortion. I still wonder what the other 15% are thinking. CARA should delve into this question further.

CATHERINE ARVENTOS
9 months 3 weeks ago

Although I find the statistics in the above article surprising and I am not convinced they accurately represent the frequency married Catholic women have abortions I do know that many, many women are struggling to manage jobs, children, caring for aging parents, and everything else they must do. It is rarely economically feasible for a woman to remain home to raise her children. Day care is extremely expensive. Women feel stretched to the maximum and feel they have a responsibility to the children they already have to provide a loving home. There may be helpful husbands who are truly partners with women in the raising of families but that is not always a reality. Many men and women need to work many hours to maintain employment as employers expect a level of commitment that is way beyond 40 hours per week. Our current lives may very well lead to women deciding they just cannot have another child as sad as that fact may be.

Kathleen Perry
9 months 3 weeks ago

Excellent summary/explanation of women's world.

Mike McDermott
9 months 3 weeks ago

But it doesn't explain why a married and presumably educated Catholic mother would even consider killing the baby in her womb because the baby's existence is inconvenient. The questions that need to be answered: What is she thinking? What mental contortions does she go through to come to a conclusion that killing a child is a better choice than adoption?

Maureen O’Brien
9 months 3 weeks ago

It is absolutely not a question of “convenience”! It is more a reality of losing a job and losing the health insurance that comes with that job. It may be a question of losing the husband as well. With all the noisy demonstrations on behalf of the unborn, the obliviousness to obvious realitiy in America is astounding. To date, the so called pro life movement has not mentioned the fact that America is about the only major nation that does not offer universal healthcare to its citizens. Canada manages to do it, why can’t the USA? America does not have much of a maternity leave policy, either. I believe France and other countries give a two year paid leave - why ca t we do that? And more importantly why hasn’t the pro life movement brought up this issue?. America currently has more aircraft carriers, more nuclear bombs, more fighter jet aircraft than any other nation on earth - it spends more on military equipment than any other nation on our planet but it it unwilling to take care of its citizens. The pro life movement would actually be living up to its name if it brought,up these issues.

Mary Gail Frawley-O'Dea
9 months 3 weeks ago

Excellent, Maureen!

Tim O'Leary
9 months 3 weeks ago

Maureen - You are not painting a very good picture of women, to say they will kill their own child in their womb unless they get health insurance from the government. Recall that Solomon was able to distinguish a true mother from a pretender by seeing which one would be willing to cut the child in half (1 Kings 3:16-28). Would you support a similar deal - universal health insurance in exchange for legal protection of the unborn?

You are right that America spends a lot of money protecting the so-called responsible nations of western Europe (and Canada) who don't even pay the 2% GDP they have committed to for defense.

Maureen O’Brien
9 months 2 weeks ago

Tim O’Leary
I am sure King Solomon would agree that no movement or individual who claims to be pro life can be considered credible unless it completely and unequivocally supports universal health coverage for all people.

Tim O'Leary
9 months 1 week ago

But King Solomon didn't have anything like universal health coverage in his kingdom, so I am not sure he would be willing to pay for it today. If he really was wise, he may have known that one cannot optimize cost, quality and access. One always loses out on one. Canada and the UK have universal coverage, but at the price of less access (through very long waiting lists) and quality (richer Canadians come south to the Mayo Clinic to pay out-of-pocket for certain procedures unavailable in Canada).

Maureen O’Brien
9 months 3 weeks ago

It is absolutely not a question of “convenience”! It is more a reality of losing a job and losing the health insurance that comes with that job. It may be a question of losing the husband as well. With all the noisy demonstrations on behalf of the unborn, the obliviousness to obvious realitiy in America is astounding. To date, the so called pro life movement has not mentioned the fact that America is about the only major nation that does not offer universal healthcare to its citizens. Canada manages to do it, why can’t the USA? America does not have much of a maternity leave policy, either. I believe France and other countries give a two year paid leave - why ca t we do that? And more importantly why hasn’t the pro life movement brought up this issue?. America currently has more aircraft carriers, more nuclear bombs, more fighter jet aircraft than any other nation on earth - it spends more on military equipment than any other nation on our planet but it it unwilling to take care of its citizens. The pro life movement would actually be living up to its name if it brought,up these issues.

Al Cannistraro
9 months 2 weeks ago

To Mike McDermott: I think your assumptions probably are not shared by many women who have abortions, even those who self-identify as Catholic: "...killing the baby in her womb...," "...killing a child...."

Mike said: Mike McDermott
But it doesn't explain why a married and presumably educated Catholic mother would even consider killing the baby in her womb because the baby's existence is inconvenient. The questions that need to be answered: What is she thinking? What mental contortions does she go through to come to a conclusion that killing a child is a better choice than adoption?

Crystal Watson
9 months 3 weeks ago

Polls have shown that a majority of Catholics believe abortion should remain legal, so this shouldn't be surprising. Catholic women get abortions for the same reasons other women do ... they've decided they don't want to continue a pregnancy.

Tim O'Leary
9 months 3 weeks ago

Crystal - like the article above, you leave out all the important questions, which are not legal ones. For a believing and practicing Catholic, Judgment Day is far more important than the laws of the current regime. If it is not, then, they are hardly believing or practicing (which is what I bet the statistics would really show).

The questions I have are: Do any of these women know what they are doing when they suck the life out of their own flesh and blood? Is it hypocrisy - where they rail against the injustices of the world while they rationalize the most severe child abuse in their own little world, the only place where they have full power over life and death? Do they know that having an abortion results in excommunication from the Church, so that they are like zombies in the Church, thinking they are still members but with a secret life outside the faith? Or, have the left the Church in belief and practice (as more extensive polling shows), and keep a catholic identification out of unthinking laziness, or for cultural or politically convenient reasons (as in “I am Catholic but I don’t believe that rot the Church teaches about…take your pick).

Or, do they realize their own personal sin against justice and repent in the confessional, rejoining the Church in full communion, as in Project Rachel? Like the father of the Prodigal son, the Lord is urgently waiting for them to come home and be holy once again. They can still be saints. Love can conquer selfishness.

Crystal Watson
9 months 3 weeks ago

You are making a lot of assumptions. Can you cite the NT (or even OT) bit of scripture that mentions that a woman deciding to get an abortion is a bad thing?

John Kasbar
9 months 3 weeks ago

Exodus 20:13

Rhett Segall
9 months 3 weeks ago

So important to remember! It cuts through all rationalizations!

Crystal Watson
9 months 3 weeks ago

You shall not murder 'people'. A fetus was not considered a person. Exodus 21:22-25 has a pregnant woman lose her baby because of an injury caused by someone else. The offender is asked to pay damages but wasn't treated as if he had killed another person.

Tim O'Leary
9 months 3 weeks ago

Crystal - the Catholic Church has been teaching that abortion is the direct killing of a human person since at least the Didache "do not practice magic; do not go in for sorcery; do not murder a child by abortion or kill a newborn infant" in the 1st Century AD. You would have to be some kind of fundamentalist to think that every definition of a person has to be in the Bible to be accepted. I think everyone knows the Catholic Church has been teaching this forever, under pain of excommunication.

Al Cannistraro
9 months 2 weeks ago

Tim O'Leary: That a sacred and immortal soul is created at the moment of conception is not self-evident, and the official Catholic stricture against abortion that follows from this assumption or assertion is a hard sell -- especially coming from an institution that has pretty much lost its moral authority among the public-at-large through its own terrible example.

The Ancient Greek philosophical concepts that buttress this teaching are outdated.

The unified and internally consistent Catholic doctrinal puzzle, though it slowly evolves to try to catch up with modern knowledge and experience, always lags woefully behind. Think slavery, presumably less-than-human races, torture and extermination of heretics and so on, male primacy (still hanging by a thread), geocentric universe, divorce (rapidly evolving), historical Jesus, etc.

Re abortion, I think the church needs to reframe and modernize its argument, if not alter its teaching. Or at least stop being so smugly certain about a concept that clearly is very uncertain and so arguable. Intellectual (and theological) humility might be a better mindset for church leaders if they want to eschew fundamentalism and influence open minds.

Tim O'Leary
9 months 1 week ago

Al - can you pick a self-evident time after conception when a soul is created? If so, then what was that being 1 minute before - some kind of animal? It was certainly alive since conception, and human since conception. Your theory would have to postulate members of the human family that were animal and not ensouled. Even so, would it be okay to kill them?

But, we are not really talking about conception when we are speaking about most abortions. The (mostly) Democrats wanted humans of 20 weeks gestation killed with impunity. Since killing is the ultimate form of abuse, I would say that any pro-choice person comes from a position that has "pretty much lost its moral authority."

Betty Dudney
9 months 3 weeks ago

Judge not that ye be not judged! Womans body created so that 10-20% will naturally abort in first 6 wks. no brain activity untill 3rd month of fetal life.
Millions of Children are still starving, maybe need to feed them before bringing more children to make resources less to feed those already here, or those mentally, emotionally, physically abused for lack of care?
"Judge not, (especially those of us no longer in the child bearing age) that we are not judged" for other commandment sins, like against our enemies, let along our neighbors. Golden Rule, Equal Respect, Love One Another!

Douglas Fang
9 months 3 weeks ago

“It is just collected data! Mam!”
In the era of Big Data, more and more data will be collected. How do you interpret the data to identify meaningful patterns, it is up to you.

Here are some facts based on my own factual observation of a group of people related to me:

1. I have 2 brothers and 2 sisters – all 5 of us are married.
2. My wife has 10 brothers and sisters. Most are married.
3. My wife and I are born and raised Catholic.
4. The majority of my brothers and sisters in law are also Catholic.
5. I don’t see anyone in this group of people has ever had an abortion even though I know a number of miscarriages happened.
6. Most of the women (not all) in this group use UID, especially those who are in my native country, as a mean for birth control. They use it after they have had the “desired” (affordable) number of children, usually 2 or 3.
7. Many of these women that use UID are devout Catholics – attending mass daily or a few days a week, praying the rosary daily, etc.

These are just facts, no more no less. You can analyze, interpret, dissect, criticize it,… as much as you want. It doesn’t change the facts!

James Haraldson
9 months 2 weeks ago

It's a FACT that contraceptivites are not Catholics.

Douglas Fang
9 months 2 weeks ago

It seems that this is only your FACT, created by a DIC (Devoutly Identified Catholic). Based on your FACT, I never met a Catholic in my life! The whole Church is filled by non-Catholics. Such a pathetic FACT! Luckily, I don't see too many DICs around me.

BARBARA LEE
9 months 3 weeks ago

Many women--Catholics and others--choose abortion because they cannot support another child. If even a small portion of the resources devoted to opposing legal abortion could be spent on helping women in poverty to care for their children after birth, I suspect these statistics would change.

Crystal Watson
9 months 3 weeks ago

If the question is "why do Catholics get abortions even thought the church teaches that's wrong?" I'd say it's for the same reason most Catholics use contraception though the church teaches it's wrong, or why most Catholics support marriage for LGBT people though the church teaches that's wrong, or why most Catholics live together before marriage though the church teaches that's wrong, etc.

Most Catholics disagree with church teaching on social issues.

H. Thomas Blum
9 months 3 weeks ago

Thanks for articulating reality, Crystal. I hope Comment readers are listening thoughtfully.

Sam Flenner
9 months 3 weeks ago

Why would the Jesuits use Guttmacher as a source for an article like this? Bad judgement letting the devil supply the stats.. What percentage of Catholic women who attend weekly Mass get abortions? Bet not 25%.

Nora Bolcon
9 months 3 weeks ago

Well, statistics back in the 1970s showed Catholic women and largely married Catholic women constituted 60% of the abortions done nationally in the U.S. Back then Catholic meant you went to church regularly. So sometimes people are not what they seem and also when society does not treat one gender fairly by not funding child care so both parents can seek out their dreams beyond being parents, bad things happen. Unfortunately oppression creates injustice in our world. This is why we need to treat all people the same and men need to make sure women have all the same opportunities to lead and use all of their talents as men have in our churches and in our world. A leadership with women bishops might have pursued an America where women could have voted much earlier and social programs that are designed to help families rather than oppress and control women may have been installed much earlier. This could have prevented many millions of past abortions. I have known some women Catholic and otherwise who have had abortions sadly and I can tell you none of them really wanted to have one - they all felt trapped at the time.

Michael Seredick
9 months 3 weeks ago

Thank you for printing this article. I'm sure there are other viewpoints of equal value, but I take at least one important point from the discussion. Our Catholic roster is just as human as others. As a parochial child, I was drilled to think Catholics were the best people and the only "true" religion. As a "soon to depart the earth" adult, I know different. We are just as good, or bad as other people. I'm a pro-choice, anti-abortion person. Not for me and my family. You chose the abortion path, it is between you and God Almighty.

Vincent Gaglione
9 months 3 weeks ago

It has been my political position that the attempt to criminalize abortion by either law or constitutional amendment is a huge mistake. The statistics in this article from this particular older research provide for me a startling question. Why would we attempt to criminalize women, for whom the circumstances of their choice for abortion range from the prosaic to the most horrifying? My conclusion is that only elements of moral arrogance, moral revenge and/or moral disgrace seemingly motivate this determined effort to ban abortions.

The comment that the Catholic Church in the USA needs to redouble its efforts to gain economic, emotional, and social support for women considering abortion is a disingenuous statement to my mind made in the article. I have argued for years that any political attempts to ban abortion must be accompanied by clear political goals that government provide all children with such. No such language exists in any proposed legislation that I have seen. Nor have I ever seen any concrete proposals regularly made in any propaganda for anti-abortion legislation. It makes for a good sound bite here but it is hypocrisy of the first order.

The most recent edition of my archdiocesan newspaper had several articles and commentaries on the recent March for Life in DC. The language of the articles displays an arrogance of belief and a subtly stated polemic of sinfulness that in my opinion would make any woman - Catholic or otherwise - reluctant to address such issues with any cleric or anti-abortion supporter. And it may also be part of the reason our pews are empty.

Finally, no one has successfully answered for me this question. How do we impose, in a nation of diverse beliefs, our moral position on people who truly believe otherwise? Where is our defense of religious freedom in this situation? We have apparently failed to persuade our own about abortion. Our politics on the issue does nothing to persuade others. Yet we intend to impose our beliefs nonetheless.

Rhett Segall
9 months 3 weeks ago

Vincent, regarding your last point about "impos(ing) our moral position on people who truly believe otherwise"; isn't that exactly what our country did on those who believed it acceptable to enslave Africans? As African American slaves needed people to stand up and outlaw their enslavement, so too the unborn need Americans to stand up for their right to life. Doesn't that make perfect sense?

Vincent Gaglione
9 months 3 weeks ago

Mr. Segall,

The point of my comment regards the political criminalization of abortion. Either you agree or disagree with that position. Nor do you make response to my perspective that we should also propose governmental supports for those who choose not to abort. I oppose abortion. I also oppose criminalizing it through law.

As for my final comment about the freedom of religion issue, you conflate the issue of slavery with the abortion issue. While some minority religious sects opposed slavery, it was never a religious issue in the USA. Rather, it was a constitutional issue. ARE SLAVES HUMAN BEINGS ENTITLED TO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS? Ironically in Catholic countries the issue was religious, that all children of God were equal and enslavement violated that status. Even after a Pope condemned slavery USA bishops were silent on the issue in the face of USA political realities.

Perhaps you are not aware that there are significant differences, even among Christian sects, as to the point at which the zygote, embryo, and/or fetus becomes human. To my knowledge only Catholics believe it occurs at the moment of conception. So there are many Christian believers, for example, who do not consider the “morning after” pill to be an abortifacient. We define it as abortion. How do we resolve that issue from a religious freedom point of view? And what of the non-believers? Have they no rights in this discussion in this diverse, secular society called the USA?
Vincent

Rhett Segall
9 months 3 weeks ago

Well, if there are any doubts as to when a human being is present in the process of conception isn't it imperative to give benefit of the doubt to the beginning of the process? It's like the hunter who thinks movement in the bush is probably a deer and not a human being. He is blameworthy if he shoots. He cannot justify it by saying "I presumed it wasn't human." In these situations it's unacceptable to risk the chance of taking innocent human life.

Nora Bolcon
9 months 3 weeks ago

No because illegalizing abortion in every country causes abortion to increase in those countries. Those are the facts and the research is plentiful and accumulated thru responsible and viable sources. There is also no existing facts to contradict this accurate and reliable research. Please feel free to research the subject for yourselves.

Mary Gail Frawley-O'Dea
9 months 3 weeks ago

Thank you

Brenda S
9 months 3 weeks ago

I stopped counting at about the 8th use of the term "procure." The use of this word is so derogatory, and I am sure was used for just that reason. Women undergo abortions. They don't procure them as if this is the 18th century and they are doing something illicit.
Second, women make the difficult choice to have an abortion because they feel it is their best or only choice. Respect their ability to make that choice. Don't take statistics and try to glean some meaning from them. What I see is that Catholic women are just like all women. Some choose abortion, some don't. Some are pro-life, some are not. Many many women I know are opposed to the idea of abortion, and feel they would never have one themselves, but then give the caveat that they cannot know what they would do if they were in the situation of having to decide, so they will not judge others who are. Nobody can know what another person must discern in their own hearts. There isn't any one reason why. Each individual has their own situation to consider. You cannot consider it for them. I hope America Magazine can bring forward the real voices of women who struggle with the reality of abortion, not the fantasy that if women were just kinder or more obedient, abortion would go away.

James Haraldson
9 months 3 weeks ago

We've heard all the cliché arguments before, about a billion times. The fantasy is yours. Situations do not determine objective ontological reality. Being a woman does not create a unique status and authority of utilitarian human worthiness for another life. No one has a right to determine the right to life of another.

Rhett Segall
9 months 3 weeks ago

No matter how you look at it, abortion is the taking of innocent human life. I wonder if the idea of "cheap grace" doesn't factor in, i.e. "I'm a sinner but God is merciful and providential and we'll clear everything up in the afterlife."

Jay Zamberlin
9 months 3 weeks ago

As someone who did sidewalk "abortion" counseling, this is just not true, if you'd simply deny the title of "Catholic" to those who simply do not practice the faith, and have not for years.

If you go to a traditional based Catholic church, people are having big families. If you go to certain Byzantine Catholic churches, same thing, because people have DECIDED to live the radical lifestyle known as the Catholic lifestyle, which used to be embraced by most of the baptized. Now we have institutions like Jesuit Universities and rags like America, whose job it is, at least half the time, to explain away and "normalize" the falling away of Catholics from their faith, simply because it does call them to a lifestyle that goes against the grain - some would deem that lifestyle "heroic." It may indeed be, especially as the Catholic community is now more or less "encouraged" to give in to a more "normative" modern American lifestyle, and so this trend is just going to get worse, save for Divine intervention or chastisement. Don't discount that possibility, btw.

Most traditional minded Catholics are not fooled by this, they recognize exactly what is going on and find it discouragingly regrettable, lukewarm (which Christ said He will spew from His mouth) and, probably more on point, of the devil.

Nora Bolcon
9 months 3 weeks ago

Wow! Am I finally reading a real and honest and factual story on abortion in America and in Catholicism from a Catholic News Source? I did not think that day would ever come. Seriously, I really never thought it would.

Kudos to you Mr. Patrick T. Brown - Good Job! Be prepared however my brother - No good deed goes unpunished, especially, in the area of the subject matter in this article.

Yes, Catholic lay people have always known many married Catholic Women have aborted children, even though they were happily married, and have done so with their husband's full consent and sometimes urging while still considering themselves fully Roman Catholic. When my mother was in her 40's, some forty years ago, I remember her telling me that the League of Women Voters had done a huge survey and found that, at that time, 60 % of all abortions were procured by Catholics and the majority of those women were married. So this article's survey numbers are far down from that percentage. This is good news which could be due to Catholics being hopefully less willing to get an abortion now or it could just mean there are less women claiming to be Catholic in America.

Responses from the Catholic women I have met along my 52 year life path, who I know had at least considered abortion or had discussed reasons that they would ever consider having an abortion, the following are the reason I was given: The most common reasons were only if the child was going to be seriously unhealthy, or if it would genuinely risk their own life to have the baby and they had other children to consider raising, or if the pregnancy was unexpected to the mother or their is present an unstable marriage at the time of pregnancy, or because the extreme high cost of having an additional child would mean that life for the parents and the other children would we be extremely degraded for most of the family's foreseeable future.

The last of the above reasons encompasses many things most of which could be readily alleviated by universal healthcare for all citizens, free and good quality daycare for all children (for all off-public school hours) so both men and women could more easily continue their careers and not suffer enormous financial loss due to loss of current job and damage to career path and growth of salaries. Better and longer paid maternity and paternity leaves and job protections would also help greatly to take away from financial stress. Free and easily accessible artificial birth control would also help older women avoid unwanted, likely less healthy pregnancies, and also help women prevent pregnancies during volatile or unstable times in marriage.

Basically, Catholic women probably have a higher late-life abortion rate because they really don't want to abort unless they feel they are extremely distressed. I would never consider an abortion and although I am not officially "Pro-Life" politically (this is because it has been well proven worldwide that the stricter the anti-abortion laws are in any country the higher the abortion rate will be.) I do think "Pro-Life" and some of its more compassionate teachers have made me understand and respect that there is a real and genuine life within the womb that God does not desire to be destroyed. So this group's less condemning measures, I believe, may have caused many Catholic women to not be as quick to abort today as they were in my Mother's 40's. However, until this group realizes all the evidence has strongly proven that illegalizing abortion only increases it, and working on social programs is the only authentic route to truly lessening the amounts of abortion in America, I don't see the current abortion rate lowering in the U.S. very much. As is true now and has been for the last several decades, the countries with the most lenient abortion and contraception access laws are the countries with the least amount of abortions especially when they pay for the social programs I already listed as well. Its not very complex how to dramatically lower abortions around the world but what is most necessary is for so-called Christians to convert their minds and hearts on how to react to this sin by helping women and families instead of trying to persecute women and doctors. It is simply the wrong and unconstructive reaction.

Vincent Gaglione
9 months 3 weeks ago

Well stated!

James Haraldson
9 months 3 weeks ago

For half a century the Church has been abandoning its God given mission. There is only one elemental purpose for the Church’s existence in the first place. The Church is not a social club. It exists to save souls. We are a fallen creation, and the purpose of life is not to be impressed with ourselves. Life is not about self-worship, which happens to be the definition of sin.
Our refusal to mention the word sin anymore has not resulted in less sin in the world, and it hasn’t resulted in Catholics becoming more moral. It hasn’t even resulted in Catholics becoming more Catholic. In fact, there is a lot of Catholic anti-Catholic bigotry in the world. Many Catholics will go out of their way to do the most anti-Catholic thing they can think of just to prove how “enlightened” they are in front of their secular counterparts. I submit Catholics are more pro-abortion than non-Catholics.

Tomas Faranda
9 months 3 weeks ago

Other surveys have indicated that this is not the case. For example, the late Andrew Greeley presented other data in your own magazine indicating this was not the case.

Ellen B
9 months 3 weeks ago

If the women who are self-identifying as Catholic are older in general, there is a greater risk of a high risk pregnancy or birth defects. It would have been interesting to hear the why.

Mary Gail Frawley-O'Dea
9 months 3 weeks ago

Guttmacher has data as recent as 2014 and it is publicly available. There is also data from the CDC and it is congruent with Guttmacher. The CDC says 14.5% of women having abortion in 2014 were married, Over 50% of women already had a child or children. Guttmacher's 2014 data is not a lot different from the outdated study cited in the article. 24% of women having abortions were Catholic, 17% mainline Protestant, 13% evangelical Protestant, 38% "none," and 8% other affiliations. 59% of 2014 abortions were obtained by women who already had children. The most common responses to questions about the reasons for an abortion were" 1. the woman's responsibility for other people, 2. the inability to afford raising a child or another child; 3. the belief that the baby would interfere with work, school, or the ability to care for other dependents. And, important, 91.5% of abortions take place in the first 13 weeks. In 2014, 46% of abortion patients were never married. Nearly half were cohabiting with a male partner - 14% were married, 31% were living with a partner. 75% of abortion patients were poor or low income.

Martin Meehan
9 months 2 weeks ago

If a single Catholic school teacher becomes pregnant, she is fired from her job. If she secretly has an abortion, she keeps her job. What's wrong with this?

i was so proud of my Catholic high school when an incoming ninth grade student met the principal to inform him she was pregnant. He replied...".You're welcome here."

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