Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Another round of Name That Race Difference

You guys up for another contest? I want to give somebody the brand new Cornel West CD, “Never Forget: A Journey of Revelations.”

So here’s the game: See that chart above? It presents data for one year (1995) from one American state (I won’t say which).

What do those numbers represent? What statistical race difference do they illustrate?

The first person to correctly guess the meaning of that chart, and put the answer in the comments thread, will win the prize. Only one guess allowed per person, so make it a good one.

UPDATE (08/22/07): We have a winner. (I’m not stumping anybody with this game.) BlackinUSA revealed that the chart represents the percentage of pregnancies terminated by abortion in Oregon in 1995. You’ll find that chart here on an Oregon government webpage. (Figure 3-5.)

That means more than 40 percent of black pregnancies in Oregon that year were terminated by “legal induced abortions,” compared with about 25 percent of white pregnancies and about 15 percent of Hispanic pregnancies.

I don’t know about you, but it’s news to me that there are so many abortions among black folks nationwide. In 2000, black people were 12 percent of the U.S. population, but had 35 percent of the abortions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, “The abortion rate for black women (30 per 1,000 women) was 3.1 times the rate for white women (10 per 1,000 women).”

There’s also something called the “abortion ratio” – the number of abortions compared with live births. The CDC says: “The abortion ratio for black women (503 per 1,000 live births) was 3.0 times the ratio for white women (167 per 1,000 live births).”

What does this mean? Is it something we should be talking about?


Matt Norwood said...

The only thing I can think is that it's linked to urbanization: perhaps the percentage of each ethnic group that lives in a major city in the state? I could imagine this to be true in states with a large rural Latino population, maybe somewhere in the southwest. So let's say something like: the percentage of each ethnic group in New Mexico that lives in Albequerque. (Quite a reach, I know.) (Oh, and it would probably have to exclude residents of Indian reservations to be at all plausible.)

BLACKinUSA said...

This statistical chart represents the percentage of pregnancies terminated by induced abortions in the state of Oregon in 1995. By Race no less.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ How the hell did you find out, blackinusa? Is there some flaw in my game here?

Anyway, congratulations. Hit me at the email address on my profile page and tell me where to send the Cornel West CD.

By the way, is it common knowledge that the abortion rate for black folks is that much higher than for whites? I've got more data on this that I'll write about.

BLACKinUSA said...

No flaws in your game, Brah! Just great research skills.
As far as the subject of abortion rates being higher among blacks than whites...maybe the percentages belie the true numbers. In Oregon's census for 2000 the percent of Black people was 1.6, while whites were 86.6%.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Just great research skills.

No shit? My hat's off to you, and I hope you dig the CD.

As for the abortion rate differential... it's actual wider nationwide than in Oregon, with black folks basically having three times as many abortions as white folks. I've added an update to the main post with the data.

BLACKinUSA said...

Personally, I have known Black women who have had multiple abortions. Not wanting to go the conspiracy route...OK I will...Could this be a sponsored, by whomever, a way of population control for Black people?

Bryan Wilhite said...

You may notice that there are no freely self-described Black women making comments on this topic (so far). You would think that some women would care deeply for a person (especially a Black man) looking closer at their lives and seriously examining what is happening to them as a group and as individuals.

My captive hope is that you can think that and be rewarded by "our" women for being so caring... So far, silence homes...

Nancy said...

When I moved to Detroit, I was not surprised to find 8 Mile Road lined with liquor stores and strip clubs, but I was amazed at how many "women's clinics" there were -- at one point there are two, directly across the street from one another. Don't know why -- in Detroit, it could very well be a zoning thing -- but it is one of those things that makes you wonder.

Mike J. said...

Abortions are, for the most part, an unspoken about medical procedure in MOST communities for a number of reasons. They have occurred for years "in silent". What could these numbers speak to? Maybe lack of adequate education about preventing unwanted pregnancies (now that would be an advanced idea for a yet to-be-created progressive society). Could also speak to women not being in an adequate economic position , they feel, to support a (or another)baby. Years ago certain areas were more friendly to the procedure than others. Maybe Oregon is. I dunno. I do see that these are the "reported" abortions, mind you.

susie said...

I worked at a Pregnancy and Birth Control Center in downtown Long Beach in the late 70s/early 80s and there was a definite trend in how unplanned pregnancies were handled by various ethnicities which further was further broken down by economics.

White girls usually terminated their pregnancies and then went on the pill. Those that were on drugs routinely used abortion as birth control.

Black girls usually came in with their mothers or a family member and usually made the decision to have their baby.

Hispanic girls usually went catatonic and sat there repeating that they couldn't be pregnant. I think this had a lot to do with the fact that most of them were Catholic and having an abortion or a baby out of wedlock was overwhelmingly shameful, plus there was that whole sin and hell thing to deal with.

Poor women, the kind who paid the $10 for their test in change, most of whom already had kids usually terminated their pregnancies.

I think that a trend upward in abortion to birth ratio may reflect that very young women are coming to terms with the fact that having children necessarily alters the choices you get to make about your future. You see the reality of becoming a teenage mother enough times and that may not be a choice you want to make.

I know that we kept statistics because at the time we received federal funding. You could probably access those numbers back to the 70s and it would be very interesting to see how something like this trends over the time that abortion has been legal.

It would be great if we could get to a place where people would choose to not get pregnant instead of being faced with a choice to terminate a pregnancy.

I don't know anyone, except for some of the drug addicts, who found that to be an easy choice

Andrea said...

Something Susie said triggered a question for me. Who is reporting these abortions? Public health clinics, those receiving public financing, or all doctors? I wonder if there is a correlation between reporting and private insurance. Or to beat around the bush a little less, whether women who can afford it/are insured for it get it done by their private doctor and it goes unreported (just as it was pre-Roe v. Wade). Just a guess, no research skills here!

Undercover Black Man said...

Bryan wrote: "You may notice that there are no freely self-described Black women making comments on this topic (so far)."

Give it time. The sisters will step up and talk about this. Also, to the degree that it's a problem, it's not women's problem alone... We're all in this one.

Bay Radical said...

It probably has a lot to do with access to, and choices around family planning. I don't have any stats in front of me, but family planning is something that people have more access to and information about when they have access to routine medical care. People who have less access to routine medical care have less access to family planning choices. It seems feasable that Black women have less access to routine medical care than white women. I'm curious about the Asian American stats - I wonder if this is scewed by a large immigrant population with limited access?

The Latina population probably has such low abortion numbers because of the high rate of Catholicism in Latino/a communities here.

Mike J. said...

"susie said...

I worked at a Pregnancy and Birth Control Center in downtown Long Beach in the late 70s/early 80s...."

I did a lot work with the underprivileged in terms of providing healthcare in D.C. in the 80's and 90's. Your comments echo my experiences as well. And the Hispanic's insistence that they could not possibly be pregnant brought back memories of a few uncomfortable moments with these young ladies and their parents. Whew.


Maybe susie can help on the question of reporting outside of sites which receive federal funding. I can't remember in any state I've worked if the abortion had to reported. Much of medicine, as you know, has historical biases in terms of reporting of certain activities, illnesses, and conditions for a number of reasons.


justjudith said...

i'm a self-described Black woman and thanks for sticking up for us, david. and i do think it is an issue that has to be addressed by all of us, not just Black women. is it a conspiracy? not sure. but i am of the belief that the abortion numbers for Black women correspond closely to income and/or education. i'd have to do some research to expound upon that.

susie said...

I wonder if there is any group that has continuously gathered these statistics as pure research. This is such a highly politicized and emotional subject that I always have to question the source.

We reported because at that time Medi-cal was funding abortion (called TAB for therapeutic abortion). The data we collected was age, race, number of pregnancies and whether those pregnancies had gone to term, ended in miscarriage or were terminated. This was from 1978-80 so abortion had been legal for less than 10 years.

We did not collect highest level of education completed or household income, but if we had I think that JustJudith's point would hold that women of all ethnicities who have higher income and education levels probably have a lower incidence of abortion.

SJ said... the time I arrive at a contest the winner is already decided.

Woah that Chinese/Japanese statistic is quite surprising, considering how they were only 3.75% of the population of Oregon in 2000.

Undercover Black Man said...

SJ wrote: "Woah that Chinese/Japanese statistic is quite surprising, considering how they were only 3.75% of the population of Oregon in 2000."

Just to make clear... that percentage represents the number of pregnancies within that particular group to end in abortions. Not a percentage of the total number of abortions in Oregon.

Even still, for more than 40 percent of pregnancies among ethnic Chinese and Japanese (regardless of the size of the population) is surprising. I wouldn't care to speculate on what it means.

TH said...

Yes, the Asian abortion rate is the really baffling statistic here. I wonder if it's partly because most of them are non-Christians and do not necessarily have moral compunctions about abortion?

Undercover Black Man said...

^ That's what I'm curious about, th. Without having looked into it, we've all heard that China is supposedly rife with infanticide. I'm interested in how a great civilization without a Christian tradition valuates human life.

BLACKinUSA said...

As if Christian tradition equals valuing life..."Shock & Awe...Uh...Iraq...Uh...George Bush!?! How many civilians have died? Not jump off subject. From my male perspective, unless there is criminal intent, a woman should be able to do with her body what she feels.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ ... unless there is criminal intent, a woman should be able to do with her body what she feels.

I am totally for abortion rights also, BlackinUSA. But these numbers have gotten under my skin... I don't know what meaning to attach to it.

Another way to present the numbers is this:

For every two African-American babies born... one is aborted.

Again I wonder: Is this a problem? Should we be having a public conversation about this?

Bryan Wilhite said...

You are right UBM! It looks the comments rolled in---my previous ejaculation (terrible pun intended) was clearly premature...