adolescent abortion




ADOLESCENT ABORTION

LEGALIZATION
Less then twenty-five years ago, any women who elected to terminate her pregnancy usually had to resort to illegal, unsanitary, and unsafe means. Abortion was frequently considered a criminal offense committed by the woman and the physician performing the procedure. The Supreme Court cases leading to the legalization of abortion began in 1963 with Griswold v. Connecticut. The court invalidated a Connecticut statute that made possession and use of contraceptives by married couples a criminal offense. The case of Griswold was later expanded to encompass the woman’s right not only to prevent but also to terminate her pregnancy. In the case of Roe v. Wade, the court held that state regulation of woman’s access to abortion at all times during her pregnancy is impermissible. In finding unconstitutional a Texas statute that did not allow abortion unless it was performed to save the mother’s life, the Court eliminated most restrictions on an adult woman’s right to an abortion.

STATISTICS
According to the book, abortion data are difficult to collect , and national statistics can only be considered estimates. The figures included in this paper are primarily based on the data provided by the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI). AGI data are based on national surveys of health institutions and private physicians providing abortion services.
Today, about 40% of the 1.1 million pregnancies of females under the age of twenty annually are terminated by induced abortions. Nearly one-third of all abortions are done on women under the age of twenty. (Melton, 1986:41)
A substantial number and proportion of abortions are obtained by teenagers. In 1981 more than 1 in 4 of the estimated 1,577,340 abortions performed were to teenagers; 6 out of 10 to 15-19 year olds were to teenagers 18-19 years of age. The chart that I included on the following page lists the number and distribution of legal abortions, abortion rates per 1,000 women, and percentage of pregnancies terminated by abortion, by age group from 1973 to 1981. (Melton 1986:43)
The number of teenage abortions has risen since the Supreme Court decision in 1973, but not as rapidly as the number of abortions to other woman of childbearing age. From 1973 to 1981, the number of abortions to women aged 20-44 went from744,620 to 1,577,340 a rise of 112%. In contrast, the number of abortions to teenagers increased from 244,570 a rise of 84%. (Melton 1986:45)
The increase in number of abortions has been greater for older teenagers. Between the ages 15-19, the number of abortions went from 232,440 in 1973 to 433,330 in 1981, an increase of 86%. Below age 15, the increase was 31%, from 11,630 to 15,240. (Melton 1986:45)
Teenagers between 18 and 19 years of age have the highest demand for abortion services for women of any age, at 61.8 per 1,000 in 1981. For teenagers aged 15-17 years, the rate was 30.1%. For teenagers below age 15 it was 8.6. (Melton 1986:60)
The rise in teenage abortion rates has been greater than that for women of childbearing age overall. Between 1973 and 1981, abortion rates for teenagers between 15 and 19 years went from 22.8 to 43.3 an increase of 90%. For teenagers below 15, the increase was 54%, from 5.6 to 8.6. In comparison the increase for all females of childbearing age was 80%, from 16.3 to 29.3 (Melon 1986:46)

The rising rates of abortion in 1973 reflect a substantial rise in teenage sexual activity. By 1979 premarital sexual intercourse was not uncommon, with one out of two woman aged 15-19 reporting they had ever had sexual intercourse. For women, the average age for initial intercourse was 16.2 years. The average age for males was 15.7 years. Black women experienced intercourse at younger ages than whites. Over 36% of black females aged 15-19 had first experienced intercourse before age 15 and for whites it was 19%. (Melton 1986:81)
Among sexually active woman who wish to avoid pregnancy but do not practice effective contraception, the percentage of pregnancies terminated by abortion is high because many unwanted pregnancies are aborted.
A majority of teenage abortions are obtained by unmarried women, and abortion rates are higher for unmarried than for married teenagers overall.

PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS
Women who receive abortions usually have a number of psychological effects. Often, at first, the teenager feels relieved. This feeling