This section discusses the access to abortion in regards to class. Class referring to social class so upper-class, middle-class, and lower-class. Lower-class women tend to have more unintended births and this is because they do not have the same access to birth control and abortion as high-class women. Most lower class women that are, "living at 100 percent or less of the federal poverty level (single households earning approximately $11,200 per year or less) who are not actively trying to conceive are twice as likely not to use contraception as their wealthier counterpart" (Marcotte). This is because women that are placed into the low-income category,simply cannot afford to pay for birth control consistently. The same idea follows into their higher birth rate. Due to these women not having access to abortion clinics and their financial struggles, they tend to have a lot more unplanned births than those women in the higher-classes. The following sections will discuss this topic and whether or not is it a social class issue.


In the beginning of the birth control movement class as well as race and national origin played a significant role. During the time of the activists Comstock and Sanger, in the late 19th and early 20th century, the perception of women who would obtain an abortion were essentially the same, even though their approaches were very different. Both believed that women needed to be controlled and protected from their own lack of self- control. (Pienta, 2013, pg. 55) Also, there was concern that dysgenic populations would reproduce, dysgenic referring to African Americans, Catholics, Immigrants, and the feeble-minded, and that abortion and birth control would be useful to control these populations. (Williamson, 2017, pg. 24-25) While Comstock wanted to protect the white, Christian, middle class from the ravages of the lustful practices, Sanger wanted to control racial make-up of America. (Pienta, 2013, pg. 57)
It is interesting that increased family leave correlates with higher abortion rates. Poor women have the least access to opportunities for employment with an extended family leave policy. (Pienta, 2016, pg. 66) It would seem that educated women with better employment, may not want to risk economic instability, the change motherhood would bring, and other consequences an unwanted pregnancy would bring.
In a study in Vantaa, Finland, long acting contraception was provided to all women citizens- regardless of economic class. When Contraceptive are provided free of charge to all citizens, abortion rates across the board drops, particularly for young women who would not be economically able to support an unintended pregnancy. By providing free contraception for all regardless of class status, it levels the playing field of who can prevent an unintended pregnancy regardless of class status. (Gyllenberg, 2018, pg. 543) when economic considerations are removed from access to birth control, unintended pregnancies and abortions are reduced.

When it comes to the topic of abortion and birth-control, there are many different outlooks on it along with different arguments and solutions. The arguments range from being more on the side about property rights to issues of morality. When it comes down to different laws and areas that are made to stop or restrict abortion and contraceptives, one of the most prevalent is “The Comstock Law”. The law basically restricted “…the promotion, sale, and use of contraceptive methods in the United States until 1971” (Meyer, 2004). With this law passed, the reproductive process was now very limited and regulated nationwide. Going back in history for a second, in the 19th century, “…abortion was legal and widely available as a procedure to the point that it was advertised in newspapers” (Lindsey, 1997). Then switch into the 20th century, and now the efforts from the people to make abortion illegal was huge; it happened just like a light switch. On one side of the spectrum you have Comstock who “…worked by lumping abortion with other “sexual crimes” and contributing to the misconception that abortion was primarily used by working-class and poor women” (Weingarten, 2010). Then there is Sanger who “…promoted birth-control by separating it from issues of abortion; by emphasizing abortion’s pernicious effects, she often portrayed birth-control as a means to better the human race…” (2010). As you can see, those were more views on the morality and human rights behind abortion and contraceptives, while on the other side of the park they argue the idea of how it affects us economically. “A goal many Americans want in the abstract—reduced abortions—could be achieved in compromise fashion by expanding child care, health care, and other economic benefits for families.” (Hussey, 2010). When looking at the problems with abortion, the main reason why women don’t go full term with their pregnancies is the idea that they aren’t economically secure to bring a child into their lives and be able to give it the care it needs and requires. But with that, now the government wants to raise abortion costs thus creating this wall causing the opportunity for abortion unavailable, but then lower all costs of childbearing, and more assistance during the pregnancy so employment within the families is more compatible
In the first section, You are told based on certain observations that were taken that Abortion is based on a social class issue. It is said that more people of the lower class basically do irresponsible activities knowing that they have the right to get an abortion. In the second section you see that some would say that class is not the issue. They believe it as more of a education and economic issue. It was said that it is based off of people are just not necessarily ready and are financially stable for an extra individual in their life.


Money and economics play a huge part in the concepts behind abortion. Unintended pregnancies are typically concentrated from low-income families. By 2011, low-income families were five times as likely to have an unintended pregnacy than those who with greater means. In an article in The New York Times, it states, "Among women getting an abortion, a 2004 survey found, the most frequently cited reasons were that a new child would interfere with education or work or that women couldn’t afford to have a baby at that time." With that being said, the economical reasons behind abortion are brought into play. Women who seek to have an abortion and do so are more likely to complete their education or continue with their careers whereas women who do not get an abortion typically stop pursuing their degrees and/or fall into the poverty line. The legalization of abortion changes the type of children being born. Since low income families typically seek abortions more, with the legalization of abortions it would lower the domestic birth rate and raise average life prospects for children.

As mentioned above, money can play a huge role in why low-income families have more children. Without being able to afford these assets it can become almost impossible to prevent it. Something that goes hand in hand with this is insurance. Insurance provides coverage for abortions and takes off a lot of the financial weight for most women that have this procedure done. For the women that are in the lower-class, this can become a difficult task as they most likely do not have a job that provides benefits such as this one. Without the extra boost from insurance coverage, these women cannot afford to have an abortion and are most times are forced to carry their baby through the pregnancy. This results is the new financial cost of a child or another child. Although abortions are harder for low-income women to obtain, majority of abortions are from these women. Heather Boonstra says in her article, Abortion in the Lives of Women Struggling Financially: Why Insurance Coverage Matters, that "75% of abortions in 2014 were among low-income patients". This is because they believe having a child or another child will impair their ability to pay their bills or care for their other children as they are doing currently. There may not be many factors to why access to abortions might be a class issue, but the ones provided are held as highly important.

Today in the Topic

Regardless of the origins, birth control at large, and abortion specifically, should be accessible by women regardless of class. Women should be free to make decisions regarding their own bodies, not needing the protection of the law to free them from the undue burden of pregnancy. This fact is moot because without this protection, women’s sexuality would continue to be defined and disciplined by those in power, from Anthony Comstock on, who by and large disagree with a woman having complete autonomy over her reproductive choices. (Pienta, 2013, pg.55) There should be efforts to change the approach where women would need less protection after the fact of pregnancy and more control and protection on the front end of sexual activity. Those who seek the control of women’s bodies are also, in large part, those who benefit from a patristic cultural approach, where decisions of sexual autonomy are challenged through laws, authority, coercion, social pressure, economics, morality, and politics. However, a rights-based approach to abortion excludes these issues from being challenged in society, and women are still left to deal with the disadvantages placed on them by a patristic culture. (Pienta, 2013, Pg. 29)
The class issue today is different than the beginning of the birth control movement. In its origins, the movement was designed to control the population of dysgenic people and protect “American”, the white Christian middle class. After the decision at Roe V Wade, 1973, the typical abortion recipient was young, white, and middle class. Today, the typical abortion patient is a twenty-something single mother of color. Almost 70% of abortions recipients are economically disadvantaged. After the legalization of abortion after the decision of Roe V Wade through the 1990’s, the use of contraception steadily rose. After that there begins to be a broadening gap of abortion rates, where abortion rates for the middle class decreases and abortion rates for the economically disadvantages increase. This correlates to less access to affordable birth control. (Marcotte, 2013)

There is still an issue today with abortion rates being affected by class. provided me with material and statistics on this topic. According to the National survey of family growth data from the centers for disease control, women living at 100% or less of the federal poverty level (Households earning approximately %11,200 per year or less) are twice as likely not to use contraception as the wealthier women (those at 400% or above the poverty line, earning over $44,700 per year) are. Poor women who are not trying to conceive are 3 times more likely to get pregnant than women of higher income. This is represented as 9% compared to 3%. They are also 5 times more likely to give birth. Ultimately, abortion rates among the poor are lower. (32% in the highest income bracket having an abortion compared to 9% of low income terminations.)

Solutions using economic modeling:
Economic modeling shows that if poorer women had the same access to contraception as more well-off women, it would cut the birth rate for single women living in poverty nearly in half. It would also do the same for abortion, reducing the birth rate from 72 births per 1,000 women to 49 births. The better solution would ultimately making abortions more accessible to lower income women.

Reasons for Controversy

Abortion is definitely of the most controversial topics in our society today. There has always been a lot of controversy on this topic and there are people on both sides of the argument and others that fall everywhere in between. Major controversy for abortion stems from religious beliefs. Many people view abortion as being against their religious beliefs. This is especially common among Catholics and Protestants. Other people view abortion as an act of murder. They feel as if the unborn child is innocent and has done nothing wrong, in turn under no circumstances should it be okay to have an abortion. They believe that a woman is responsible for her own actions and that if she were to get pregnant unintentionally, then it becomes her responsibility to give life to the child regardless. People who share this belief are pro-life. Pro-life is defined as opposing abortion and euthanasia. However, people who support abortion are pro-abortion or pro-life. People who are pro-abortion often believe that women should be able to do whatever they want to with their bodies. They believe that women have the right to choose whether or not to be responsible for it as it is their body and nobody else's. They believe that abortion is a very hard and personal decision and that it should respected by others. The controversy of abortion specifically in class is how accessible it is to the classes. In the upper-class abortion is more accessible because they are able to afford it. However, among the upper-class it is frowned upon more to have an abortion so in a social sense its harder to access it. In the lower-class it is much more common for people to have an abortion because it is too expensive for them to consistently afford birth control. For the lower-class it is cheaper to have abortion than to have to raise a child and pay for all of its needs.

Common Ground

There doesn’t seem to be much common ground as to whether one believes that class plays a role in access to abortion or not. However, that understanding is necessary to bridge the gap between these two sides so that there is a full understanding of the challenge women face in regard to their reproductive and economic health. How could thorough policies be created and implemented without full understanding of the impact class and economics play in abortion policies? This assumes that all those in policy making cares about these issues more than their ideologies, which is doubtful considering the cultural resistance of abortion altogether. This issue will be evolving for years to come.

There is a common ground between the opposing views. Although the economical view stand for women's choice of what they want to do with their own bodies, I believe abortion is their last result. According to, "Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Women's Studies", Laura Hussey explains that in a study, 73% of women who had had abortions had identified the lack of money to afford raising the child had influenced the abortion, while 23% of those women said it was the main reason. Hussey states that in "One study finds higher AFDC benefits associated with lower state abortion rates". So, ultimately our government wants to decrease the amount of abortions, thus helping financially with parenting such as through means of food, child care, and health insurance. Both opposing side do not wish abortion, but the difference is that the economic side fights for funding abortions(through Medicaid funding), if the mother still does not want to follow through with having the child.

See Also

As the term progresses, you should be able to link to other topics on other pages and return to previous pages and insert those links retroactively.


Gyllenberg F, Juselius M, Gissler M, Heikinheimo O. Long-Acting Reversible Contraception Free of Charge, Method Initiation, and Abortion Rates in Finland. American Journal Of Public Health [serial online]. April 2018;108(4):538-543. Available from: CINAHL Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed September 14, 2018.
Szala, L. (2017, May 09). The Problem With Linking Abortion and Economics. Retrieved from
Pienta,R. (2013). Taking Sides:Clashing Views in Women's Studies. The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Marcotte, A. (2015, March 02). Why Do Poor Women Have More Abortions? Retrieved September 11, 2018, from
Religious Views. (n.d.). Retrieved September 12, 2018, from
Marcotte, Amanda January 22, 2013. The American Prospect. Accessed September 14, 2018
Marcotte, Amanda. “Why Do Poor Women Have More Abortions?” Slate Magazine, 2 Mar. 2015,
WILLIAMSON K. ‘To Perish in These Sordid, Abnormal Experiences’. (cover story). National Review [serial online]. June 12, 2017;69(11):24-27. Available from: MasterFILE Elite, Ipswich, MA. Accessed September 14, 2018.

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