28 April 2011

Abortion math: lifetime incidence of abortion vs. breast cancer

Math day!

In 2007, about 827,000 voluntary abortions were reported to the CDC (CDC.gov). In 2009, the population of the U.S. was about 307,000,000 souls, about half of them women and girls (Census.gov). If about 40% of them are not in the childbearing years defined as ages 15 to 44, then we have about 307,000,000 people x 50.7% are female x say 60% are age 15 to 44 = some 93.4 million women in their childbearing years living in the U.S.

So 827,000 voluntary abortions in 2007 divided by 93.4 million women in that age range in 2009 = an annual rate of about 0.8% of American women age 15 to 44 having an abortion, about 8 in 1000 -- or 1 in 125. About 1/3 of all American women will have an abortion at some point during their childbearing years (Guttmacher.org, with links to primary sources).

Something with a yearly incidence of 1 in 125 and a lifetime incidence of 1 in 3 needs to be discussed with rationality and openness. By comparison, over their lifetime, women are more likely to get an abortion than to suffer breast cancer, which has a lifetime incidence of 1 in 8 (American Cancer Society, PDF).

I've said it before, and I'll say it again now. Everyone, and I mean everyone, knows a woman who's had an abortion. You're around women all the time who have had an abortion: in line at the supermarket, at your workplace, at your school, among your family, on your Facebook friendslist, and among the women you date. You know more women who have had an abortion than you know women who have had or who will have breast cancer. That's a lot of women whose healthcare isn't subsidized by federal funds except in cases of tragedy or crime (PDF), the way any other aspect of healthcare might be. And I've never seen a charity "race for the curette."

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