The Jackson Women's Health Organization, located in Jackson, is the only abortion provider in the state. Credit: Vickie D. King/Mississippi Today

Following the recent U.S. Supreme Court hearing on a Mississippi law that challenges Roe v. Wade, Mississippi Today examined who is most likely to be impacted if abortion is prohibited or made more difficult to obtain.

Abortions have been declining in the U.S. since the 1990s. Amanda Jean Stevenson, a sociologist at the University of Colorado Boulder studying reproductive health, said this decline is generally attributed to increased use of contraception (and an increase in the variety of contraceptives used), as well as increases in self-managed abortions and stigma around getting an abortion. Stevenson said that abortion restrictions are not associated with the decline in the abortion rate through 2017.

The rate of abortions occurring in Mississippi saw an initial spike after Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that affirmed a pregnant person's right to choose, but has always been lower than the rate of abortions nationwide. Mississippi saw a decline of abortions in the 90s, similar to national trends, and has held steady at a rate under 5 abortions per 1,000 reproductive-age women since 2005.

Mississippi has one of the lowest abortion rates in the country, with 4.3 abortions occurring in the state per 1,000 reproductive-age women in 2017. The rate of Mississippi residents receiving abortions is nearly double that, at 8.3 per 1,000 reproductive-age women, according to the Guttmacher Institute. This indicates that a number of Mississippi women are likely seeking abortions in other states.

The Mississippi Department of Health does not provide information about the income or family size of abortion recipients or the gestational age at which those abortions occur. Nationally:

  • 75% of abortion recipients live in poverty
  • 59% of abortion recipients already have at least 1 child
  • 65% happen before eight weeks, and 95% of abortions happen at 15 weeks or earlier (the point of the Mississippi abortion ban)

MSDH does report information about Mississippi residents regardless of where their abortion was performed.

Age statistics are very similar and do not differ significantly from national averages. Women in their 20s make up the majority of women receiving abortions.

The number of Black Mississippians receiving abortions is higher than the national average, but the number of Mississippi residents that are Black is also higher than the national average (37.8% of Mississippians are Black, compared to 13.4% nationally).

Overall, educational attainment is relatively similar in Mississippi and nationally. Women who have attended some college make up the largest category of abortion recipients. The number of Mississippi women with college or advanced degrees receiving abortions is lower than the national average, and the number of Mississippi women with high school degrees receiving abortions is slightly higher.

Due to differences in data reporting, comparisons cannot be easily made about the unmarried Mississippi residents receiving abortions. But both nationally and for Mississippians, most women receiving abortions are unmarried.

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Julia, a Louisiana native, covers K-12 education. She previously served as an investigative intern with Mississippi Today helping cover the welfare scandal. She is a 2021 graduate of the University of Mississippi, where she studied journalism and public policy and was a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. She has also been published in The New York Times and the Clarion-Ledger.