Washington: Younger women with a high number of recent life disruptions and poverty are more likely than their peers to get late-term or second-trimester abortions, a new has study found.
   
The study by researchers from the Guttmacher Institute in the US focused on a relatively small group of American women, those who end pregnancies after the first trimester, which lasts 12 weeks. As of 2006, 88 percent of abortions occurred before the end of the first trimester, making second-trimester abortions relatively rare.
   
However, these later abortions, the researchers said, are more expensive, more difficult to come by, and carry more medical risk than earlier procedures.
   
To get more comprehensive information, the researchers surveyed 9,493 abortion patients at 95 hospitals and clinics across the country in 2008, weighting the data to create a nationally representative sample of abortion patients.
   
They queried the women on demographic factors like race, poverty, education and marital status, as well as about their experience of domestic violence and recent disruptive life events, including unemployment, serious medical problems and death or illness among friends and family.
   
They then focused on those who had abortions after 13 weeks and compared women who had 13-to-15-week abortions with those who had abortions after 16 weeks.
   
"We kept seeing all these discussions of second-trimester abortions and attempts to limit abortions by trimester," said Guttmacher Senior Research Associate Rachel Jones. "It dawned on us that we didn't know anything about this population."
   
Of all women surveyed, 10.3 percent had abortions after the first trimester. These women were more likely to be young, black, less educated and living in poverty than women who had earlier abortions.
   
They were also more likely to have experienced violence by their partners and to have dealt with at least three serious life events in the last year. Compared with the 10.3 percent overall number, 14 percent of patients under age 18 had second-trimester abortions, as did 13.8 percent of adolescents ages 18 to 19.
   
Among all ages, 13.4 percent of black abortion patients had second-trimester procedures, compared with 8.5 percent of white abortion patients and 9.9 percent of Hispanic abortion patients.
   
Of abortion patients without high-school diplomas, 13.1 percent had second-trimester abortions, a proportion that decreased with education. Of college-graduate abortion patients, only 5.8 percent had late abortions.
   
A lack of education may mean that patients are less health-literate, and thus less likely to figure out how to access an abortion until later in pregnancy, the researchers wrote in their report published in the journal Contraception.
   
Living under the poverty line also increased the chances of a later-term abortion, with 12.6 percent of abortion patients living in poverty getting second-trimester procedures, the researchers found.
   
The rate of second-trimester abortions dropped to 7.7 percent among women earning at least twice as much as poverty levels, they added.

Agencies