About one-third of pregnancies in Detroit, Mich., end in abortion. In 2012, nearly 18,360 women in Detroit became pregnant, according to the most recent statistics released by the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH). But 5,693 of those pregnancies, or 31 percent, ended in abortion.
While the total number of abortions in Michigan has declined by about 18 percent since 2001, Detroit hasn’t followed that trend. There, the abortion rate has risen from 27.5 out of every 1,000 women in 2001 to 37.9 per 1,000 women in 2012. Detroit’s 2012 abortion rate is more than 3 times higher than the statewide abortion rate of 11 out of every 1,000 women. Dr. Susan Schooley, chairwoman of the Department of Family Medicine at Henry Ford Hospital, told Detroit News the city’s abortion rate resembles a developing country more than the United States.
As a large city with an 82.7 percent African-American population, Detroit reflects a common trend across the United States: high abortion rates in large cities and among minority populations. About 37 percent of pregnancies in New York City end in abortion. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2013 Abortion Surveillance report found that 31.8 out of 1,000 African-American women nationwide get abortions, a significantly higher rate compared to other demographic groups.
“The bottom line is those [minority] women … are being sold abortions,” said Kathy Crombie, director of multicultural outreach at Right to Life of Michigan (RLM). For example, Detroit’s abortion facilities mostly are located in minority neighborhoods. Their social background causes many women to believe abortion is “just something that you do,” Crombie said. Fears about money and time limitations push others toward abortion, she said.
But more significantly, many minority women simply don’t understand their child is more than a “blob of tissue” before birth or know the array of abortion alternatives available to them. Though Schooley linked availability of family planning care to Detroit’s abortion rate, Crombie sees instead a lack of education. To many, abortion is the only choice. As a result, RLM seeks to educate both men and women. “What we’re doing in many ways is lifting the veil,” Crombie said.
Throughout the year, but especially during Black History Month, RLM offers a “Life of the People” presentation through pro-life student groups and local churches, including African-American congregations in Detroit. “When people understand better, they make better choices,” Crombie said.