Abortion Debate Includes Elements of Race, Seen with Selective Reduction
Abortion is a much-publicized issue with heavy regulations because those who are against abortions want to protect the life of the fetus. However, selective-reduction, a medical procedure that targets and kills a fetus to help increase the chance of a successful pregnancy during a multiple pregnancy, doesn’t face the same regulations, stigma, or public outcry as typical abortions. Why is that? Comparing the two procedures, one factor stands out. Race.
Selective-reduction is most commonly used after a woman goes through in vitro fertilization (IVF). During the process of IVF, sometimes the woman will have a multiple pregnancy and to ensure a higher success rate of delivery or to decrease health risks to the mother and the other fetus, selective-reduction is advised. The procedure targets a fetus to kill to reduce the number of fetuses during the pregnancy, but the medical procedure is done to “save lives” and continue the pregnancy. A typical abortion, on the other hand, is done to end the pregnancy altogether.
African American women are five times more likely to have an abortion compared to white women, according to a 2014 Atlantic article. A Guttmacher Institute article in 2017 looked at abortion rates for every 1,000 women between the age of 15-44 years old by race for 2014. African-Americans abortion rate was the highest at 27.1 percent. Hispanics were at 18.1 percent and other Non-Hispanics was at 16.3 percent. The lowest abortion rate was white, non-Hispanics at 10 percent. The selective reduction essay in the law journal also noted that non-white women in their 20s with little or no college education and incomes at or below the national average are the majority of women who have abortions.
IVFs are expensive. According to an article by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the average cost in the U.S. for a cycle of IVF is about $12,513 and the cost per live birth is about $41,132. The article noted that these high costs make IVF treatments “impractical, if not impossible, for many couples, especially low-income families.” The article also noted that minority women are less likely to access assisted reproductive treatment–like IVF–because of the cost, education, and cultural beliefs.
A 2014 New York Times article found that 15 percent of white women between the age of 25 to 44 seek fertility services compared to 7.6 percent of Hispanics and 8 percent of African American women. In the article, Heather Lawson, a lawyer who received fertility services shared her experience of being the only black woman in the fertility clinics. “Nine times out of ten, I am the only person that looks like me,” she said. “And these offices are packed.”
Is there a connection between those who receive highly stigmatized abortions and those who receive selective reduction abortions, which are unregulated with no stigma? There is evidence that may suggest a racial connection. Therefore, there is evidence to suggest the debate on abortion may be motivated by race.