Is “Unintended Pregnancy” an Oxymoron?

First of all, if two consenting adults have sex without any reproductive protection, they intend to get pregnant.

The exuberance of academia and medical research has led to many millions of dollars being spent on ridiculous studies about women, studies that distinguish pregnancies based on “intended” and “unintended.”  In fact, I’ve decided to make it a sole category for my blog.  The newest study was profiled on MSNBC with a lead stating, “Unintended pregnancies, which make up nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States, are increasingly concentrated among low-income women, a study showed on Wednesday. ”

The study was released by the Guttmacher Institute, an organization whose stated mission is “advancing sexual and reproductive health worldwide through research, policy analysis and public education,”  centers on a 50 percent increase of unintended pregnancies among poor women in 2006, while women with incomes 200 percent over the poverty level, fell almost 30 percent.  So, my question is simple – how did you figure that out?  We know that the Guttmacher Institute didn’t ask women about their intended and unintended pregnancies while also getting their net worth.  Instead, they looked at data and assumed certain things.  Here’s what they say about the design:

“Study Design: We combined data on women’s pregnancy intentions from the 2006–2008 and 2002 National Survey of Family Growth with a 2008 national survey of abortion patients and data on births from the National Center for Health Statistics, induced abortions from a national abortion provider census, miscarriages estimated from the National Survey of Family Growth and population data from the US Census Bureau.”

So, it sounds like, they took the number of pregnancies and divided by the number of abortions?  But, they also used miscarriages, which I guess is considered an “intended” pregnancy.  How do they figure out the level of income?  It’s somewhere in the above paragraph because right after it the results are stated:

“Results: Nearly half (49%) of pregnancies were unintended in 2006, up slightly from 2001 (48%). The unintended pregnancy rate increased to 52 per 1000 women aged 15–44 years in 2006 from 50 in 2001. Disparities in unintended pregnancy rates among subgroups persisted and in some cases increased, and women who were 18–24 years old, poor or cohabiting had rates two to three times the national rate. The unintended pregnancy rate declined notably for teens 15–17 years old. The proportion of unintended pregnancies ending in abortion decreased from 47% in 2001 to 43% in 2006, and the unintended birth rate increased from 23 to 25 per 1000 women 15–44 years old.”

“Conclusions: Since 2001, the United States has not made progress in reducing unintended pregnancy. Rates increased for nearly all groups and remain high overall. Efforts to help women and couples plan their pregnancies, such as increasing access to effective contraceptives, should focus on groups at greatest risk for unintended pregnancy, particularly poor and cohabiting women.”

The constant pronouncement of studies focused on women seem to be more of a PR stunt than real issues.  What I think might be the most troubling in this particular study is a comment made by one of the study’s researchers, Lawrence Finer,'”poor women who are married have unintended pregnancy rates more than twice as high as those of higher-income women who are unmarried or cohabiting.”’

Does that mean that poor, married women have more abortions than higher-income women?  They have access to abortions, but not birth control.  Women must have access to ways that allow them more power over their fertility so that they can have the freedom to control their own destiny in terms of schooling, job growth and safety.  According to, Medicaid does cover birth control pills.  Why are poor women and poor, married women not using them?  Do we need to provide better education?  This is the real issue.  Children are wonderful.  My grandmother had 11 at a time when there was no birth control.  It wasn’t easy, for her or her children.  Prevention is key.

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