A study released in November by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood, reveals that nearly half of all 2002 abortions in America were performed on women who had undergone at least one previous abortion.

In the study entitled Repeat Abortion in the United States, released this month, researchers found that 48.2 percent of women who had abortions between 2000-2001 were obtaining repeat abortions. That included 29 percent who had one previous abortion, 12 percent who had two previous abortions, and 7 percent who were aborting their fourth or more pregnancy.

A majority of women aged 25 or older who had abortions had one or more previous abortions. Women having two or more abortions were almost twice as likely to be aged 30 or older, researchers found.

Women who had three or more prior births were more than twice as likely to have repeat abortions. Of the women who had three or more abortions, 33.8 percent had three or more children. Of women who had one or more prior births, a majority reported one or more previous abortions.

However, 43 percent of women obtaining repeat abortions, both those with children and those without, said they wanted to have (more) children, while almost one quarter said they were unsure.  Thirty-three percent said they did not want (more) children.

Women having repeat abortions were somewhat more likely to be married, cohabiting, or to have been married in the past, than women having their first abortion.

The average time span between abortions was found to be three and a half years. Even among women aged 35 or older who had repeat abortions, the average time span between abortions was just over four years.

The more abortions women had, the closer together they occurred. Women who had three or more abortions had repeat abortions within two years of the previous abortion 50 percent of the time.

The study was conducted by researchers Rachel K. Jones, Susheela Singh, Lawrence B. Finer and Lori F. Frohwirth. The report relied on data collected from multiple sources including annual abortion surveillance reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Guttmacher Institute’s Abortion Provider Census, the Guttmacher 2000-2001 Abortion Patient Survey, and the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth.

Read full Guttmacher report here: