Friday, February 19, 2010
Guttmacher Institute news release: Black History Month: Addressing Health Disparities:
As the United States celebrates Black History Month, one enduring challenge we face as a nation is the persistent health disparities between black and white Americans. The area of sexual and reproductive health, in particular, is riddled with inequities, including differences in contraceptive failure rates, unintended pregnancy and abortion among teen and adult women, and rates of infection with HIV and other STIs among both men and women. While much progress has been made, our efforts and attention need to be directed toward equalizing health outcomes for all Americans.
Teen pregnancy rates have dropped significantly among African Americans over the past decade but remain much higher than those among white teens. Among black teens, the pregnancy rate fell by 45% between 1990 and 2005 (from 224 to 123 pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15–19). Rates among non-Hispanic white teens also fell by 50% in the same time period, but starting at a much lower rate of 87 per 1,000 in 1990 and falling to 43 per 1,000 in 2005. Alarmingly, teen pregnancy rates went up among all racial and ethnic groups in 2006.
Among women of all ages, black Americans are almost four times as likely as whites to have an abortion. Antiabortion activists use this statistic to make the groundless argument that the “abortion industry” is targeting and marketing aggressively to African-American communities. What proponents of this argument fail to recognize is that black women’s higher abortion rates are directly related to their higher rates of unintended pregnancy. Disproportionately high rates of both unintended pregnancy and abortion are symptoms of the broader health disparities faced by the black community. . . .