First-Ever Study of Abortion Among Asian Populations in U.S. Shows Rates Are Lower Than Most Other Groups

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The Guttmacher Institute today released the first-ever study to detail abortion rates among specific Asian populations in the United States. The study, which focuses on Asian groups in New York City, finds that the abortion rate for Asian women is lower than the rates for most other major ethnic and racial groups.

Asian women make up almost 10% of the U.S. population that may need abortion care. However, little is known about their use of this care because data on abortion have never before been calculated for specific Asian populations in the United States.

This first-of-its-kind study, offering data for New York City, demonstrates that it is possible to accurately measure abortion among U.S. Asian populations, providing important new data about an essential health care service.

Key study findings:

  • During 2014-2015, the abortion rate for Asian women in New York City was 12.6 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44 years, lower than the rates for other major racial or ethnic groups (33.8 for all women, 15.7 for White women, 63.5 for Black women and 33.9 for Hispanic women). 
  • Among country-of-origin groups, Indian women had the highest rate (30.5 abortions per 1,000 women), followed by Japanese women (17), Vietnamese women (13), Chinese women (8.8), and Korean women (5.1). 
  • The abortion rate for U.S.-born Asian women was about 1.5 times higher than for foreign-born Asian women, although differences varied by country of origin. For example, the abortion rate for U.S.-born Chinese women was nearly twice as high as that for foreign-born women, while among Japanese women, there was a nearly five-fold difference in the abortion rate between foreign-born and U.S.-born women. 
  • The abortion rate declined or remained steady for nearly all Asian groups from 2011-2015. 

Statement from Guttmacher Senior Research Scientist Sheila Desai:

“Our new study provides crucial data on abortion among specific Asian groups in the United States – data that, up until now, have been missing. Our research found that the abortion rate among Asian women in New York City was lower than the rate among most other racial and ethnic groups. We also found important differences in abortion rates between Asian groups. These differences may reflect varying birth patterns or access to care among groups, but further study is needed.

The abortion rates in this study demonstrate that abortion is common and necessary for all groups, including Asians. Furthermore, Asian women make up a significant proportion of people who want and need abortion care. We must account for these groups’ experiences if we want to better understand and support abortion care and access in the United States.

Barriers to health care – including abortion – are amplified for Asian and other immigrant populations. Expanding the capacity of health care systems in the United States to provide structurally competent, patient-centered, and linguistically diverse health services is essential for accessible and equitable health care, including abortion.”  

Full analysis: Sheila Desia, Mary Huynh, Heidi Jones. Differences in Abortion Rates between Asian Populations by Country of Origin and Nativity Status in New York City, 2011–2015. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 202118(12), 6182;

Reposted with permission from the original.