In 2005, Renee Bracey Sherman, then 19, sat in the abortion clinic alone.
A jumble of concerns ran through her mind. She didn’t feel ready for a baby, but still, she worried that her parents would be disappointed in her choice. More than anything, though, she didn’t want to be a statistic, another pregnant black teen.
“In the moment, you never know who your allies are,” Bracey Sherman said. “You don’t want to take the chance of everyone judging you at a moment when you’re so vulnerable. There’s a very unfortunate stereotype of women of color, and black women in particular, that we are promiscuous and just have babies. You don’t want that to be you.”
An African-American woman is almost five times likelier to have an abortion than a white woman, and a Latina more than twice as likely, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The rate of abortion among American women is currently at its lowest point since Roe v. Wade, according to a recent report by the Guttmacher Institute. About 1.1 million abortions were performed in 2011, at a rate of 16.9 abortions for every 1,000 women of childbearing age, down from a peak of 29.3 per 1,000 in 1981. Since the report’s release in February, the reason why has been the subject of much debate. Its authors and abortion-rights supporters point to the increase in contraceptive use and sexual education, while anti-abortion activists counter that the decrease is a result of abstinence-only teachings and state restrictions.