After the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing first and second trimester abortions, the abortion ratio (per 1,000 births), rate (per 1,000 women 15-44), and percentage (of pregnancies) all steadily increased until a peak in the early 1980s. Since that first decade all three measures of abortion frequency have been steadily declining. Nearly half of pregnancies in 1983 were terminated while today it’s less than a quarter.
The Baby Scoop Era of wide scale infant theft and sale came to a close, thanks to legal birth control, abortion, and activism. The Baby Scoop generally did not scoop up black babies: their mothers were expected to keep children born out of wedlock. White girls and young women were placed in maternity homes and pressured to repent – and relinquish their babes. Native children are still stolen away to be raised in white homes with white Christian values.
Differing forms of racism and racist stereotypes allow for great inequality in access to family planning services, but also in need of them. In the United States a black woman is five times as likely to have an abortion as a white woman, though white women have the majority of abortions performed. Poverty and already being a single mother are the most frequently cited reasons for abortion. Since median white wealth is twenty times higher than median black wealth, and eighteen times median Latinx wealth, it’s easy to understand why financial standing would disproportionately impact women of color.
But there is also a cultural devaluing of black and brown babies, and a detestation of their mothers. A teen or unmarried women of color who becomes pregnant has greater stigma to bear, and the additional burden of representing their entire race. Her children will face hardships built by racist institutions and policies, and her fertility will be used to condemn her. Even when controlling for income, black people seek abortions at a higher rate.