Women don't talk much about abortion. That's what makes Wendy Davis' admission in her new biography so surprising. The Texas gubernatorial candidate reveals that she has had two abortions, the Associated Press reported late Friday. Both were wanted pregnancies that Davis, who rose to fame filibustering Texas abortion restrictions, terminated for medical reasons.
Talking about abortion is rare — but the actual experience isn't. More than one in every five pregnancies — 21 percent, excluding miscarriages — are terminated, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit research organization that supports abortion rights. Each year, 1.7 percent of American women between 15 and 44 have an abortion.
Researchers at the Guttmacher Institute published separate research in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, estimating that if the abortion rate from 2008 held, 30 percent of American women would have obtained an abortion by time they turned 45. One in 12 women, at the 2008 rate, would have had an abortion by age 20, and a quarter of all women under 30 would have terminated a pregnancy.
The actual number of women having abortions may turn out to be slightly lower, mostly because the abortion rate has dropped since 2008. In 2011, it hit the lowest rate since the United States legalized the procedure with the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.
Because the abortion rate has fallen steadily since 2008, that means the percent of women terminating pregnancies would likely dip below 30 percent, but not by much. Abortion remains a common experience in the United States — there were 765,651 pregnancies terminated in 2010 — despite how little it's discussed.