A new report about the high number of abortions in Detroit, considered by many to be a failed city because of its financial devastation, reveals that an estimated 31 percent of pregnancies there end in abortion, what one doctor compared to the worst rates on earth.
“We’re seeing a picture that looks more like some Third World country than someplace in the United States,” Dr. Susan Schooley, head of the Department of Family Medicine at Henry Ford Hospital, told The Detroit News.
Among the worst abortion rates around the globe are repressive nations like Vietnam, where there are 83 abortions per 1,000 women, the Russian Federation, where the rate is 68, and Ukraine, where the rate is 57 per 1,000 women.
The Detroit report was working with a slightly different metric: the percentage of pregnancies that end in abortion, and it said there were 5,693 abortions among 18,360 pregnancies in Detroit during 2012.
At the same time, there were 22,699 abortions among 160,219 pregnancies in Michigan.
That translates into a Detroit abortion rate – the number of abortions by population, including women who weren’t pregnant that year – of 37.9 per 1,000 women aged 15-44. “That’s up from 27.5 per 1,000 women in 2001,” the report said.
The News said that was “three times greater than Michigan’s statewide rate, which declined … to 11 per 1,000.”
The report linked the abortion rate to poverty in the city from which hundreds of thousands of residents have fled over recent decades. Just last year the state intervened in its finances because of an insurmountable debt facing taxpayers.
The report blamed a collapse of taxpayer subsidies for contraceptives over recent years, with such funding dropping from more than $5 million in 2006 to about $700,000 in 2013.
“It’s another public health challenge for Detroit, which is the most dangerous city in America to be a child, according to a Detroit News study. Published in January, the study found that the death rate for children 18 and younger is higher in Detroit than in any U.S. city its size or larger. The highest number of deaths occur in the first year, most related to premature birth. Homicide is the second greatest cause of child deaths in the city,” the News report said.
It said the U.S. abortion rate in 2011, the most recent data available, was 17 per 1,000 women.
“Both routine primary care and family planning-specific primary care are not available in Detroit,” Schooley told the newspaper. “To the extent that a significant proportion of those (pregnancies) are unplanned, it leads to all these decision-making options of which abortion is one lousy choice.”
Health professionals told the News they expect Obamacare will reduce abortions by providing funding for more birth control, either through expanded Medicaid or separate health insurance.
Dr. Jay Berman, chief of gynecology at DMC Hutzel Hospital and division chief for gynecology at Wayne State University Medical School, said the subsidies in Obamacare will give women greater access to the more expensive treatments – such as injections, intra-uterine devices (IUDs) and subdermal implants.
Detroit has dropped in population over the last decades by hundreds of thousands of residents, and during 2013 the state intervened in its finances because the city was faced with a continued decline in its tax revenue, while costs, especially those for lucrative city pensions negotiated by unions over the years, were skyrocketing.