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Number of reported abortions and rate of abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44, United States, 1973–1992. Source: Henshaw SK, Van Vort J. Abortion services in the United States, 1991 and 1992. Fam Plann Perspect. 1993;26:100–106.
in abortion; 51 percent of mistimed pregnancies and 50 percent of unwanted pregnancies end in abortion (Forrest, 1994). The more critical factor is whether or not the woman is married.
Compared with marital status, age is a less powerful predictor of the propensity to abort an unintended pregnancy (Table 2-2). About half of women under age 35 who experience an unintended pregnancy obtain an abortion. The proportion rises among older women, with nearly 6 in 10 women ages 40–44 who experience an unintended pregnancy obtaining an abortion.
The proportion of women obtaining an abortion in the event of an unintended pregnancy is slightly lower among affluent women than low-income women. But, again, the effect of poverty status is weak and irregular compared with the very strong effect of marital status.
International comparisons help to put many of these numbers into perspective. Data from other industrialized democracies demonstrate that the rate of unintended pregnancy experienced among teenagers in the United States is