Abortion has now been illegal in Alabama for almost two weeks following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and return regulation of the issue back to the states.
Very quickly after the decision, Alabama’s 2019 law went into effect banning nearly all abortions and imposing criminal penalties against doctors who perform them.
A recently published 2020 ADPH report goes into great detail about the demographics of women and girls who obtained abortions that year, as well as the stages of pregnancy, the procedure type, how many abortions each clinic performed and more.
In all, 7,466 abortions were performed in Alabama in 2020, down about 1 percent from 7,538 performed in 2019.
This article will look solely at the demographics portion of the report.
Abortions by age
The overwhelming majority of abortions were performed on women 18 and over, equivalent to 97.5 percent of all abortions performed that year.
However, that 2.5 percent represents 188 minor girls receiving abortions of which 60 were under the age of 16, the age of consent in Alabama.
The Alabama abortion law has come under fire from critics for containing no exceptions for rape and incest and requiring even the youngest of mothers to carry the baby to term unless it imminently threatens their health.
Two girls 12 and under underwent abortions, while 58 girls ages 13 to 15 had abortions. Some of these cases conceivably fell under statutory rape law, although there is no indicator in the report to distinguish whether the pregnancy occurred under these conditions. There are exceptions within the Alabama definition of rape that allow for someone up to two years older to engage in sexual intercourse with someone older than 12.
The 25-29 age bracket had the most abortions in 2020, with 2,325 abortions being performed on women of the age group. The 20-24 had nearly as many with 2,284 abortions, and there were 1,381 abortions performed on women 30-24. Altogether, they accounted for more than 80 percent of all abortions performed on Alabama residents. Women 20-29 underwent about 62 percent of all abortions.
Only 179 women 40 and up had abortions.
Racial and socioeconomic dynamics
Black residents made up a highly disproportionate number of all abortions performed. According to the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, Black or African American residents make up 28.6 percent of Alabama’s population.
But more than two thirds of abortions were performed on Black women, according to the report. The trend remained constant across ages as well, with 122 of the 188 minors obtaining abortions being Black.
At least 88.5 percent of all abortions were performed on unmarried women, and the majority of women receiving abortions had some level of postsecondary education.
The report shows 3,771 women, 50.5 percent, reported having completed “13 or more” under the section “highest grade” completed. Most of the remaining women had finished high school, as 40.4 percent of all women reported grade 12 as their highest grade completed.
Only 401 of the women or girls had not completed high school, and the 188 girls under the age of 18 would likely all fit into that category.
Previous births and abortions
The report also indicates that about two thirds of the patients receiving abortions had already given birth to at least one child.
The majority of those women had given birth to just one child (28.5 percent of all abortions), while 22.6 percent of all women having abortions had two previous live births. The numbers trended down from there with each number of additional previous births, all the way down to three women who reported having nine or more previous live births before having the abortion. A total of 151 women had five or more children before getting the abortion.
Just over 65 percent of the abortions were a first for the women receiving them, while the other 35 percent had previously had one or more abortions, including two women who had previously had nine or more abortions. Like with live births, the majority of women who had previously obtained an abortion had only had one prior abortion.