U.S. abortion, vasectomy rates rise as economy falters

Doctors in the U.S. are reporting an increased demand for abortions or vasectomies during the recession.

Doctors in the U.S. are reporting an increased demand for abortions or vasectomies during the recession.

A pregnant woman in Oakland, Calif., told her doctor she walked to the medical centre in flip-flops and tears to save bus fare after her boyfriend lost his job. She was seeking an abortion to prevent what would have been her fourth child. 

"This was a desired pregnancy — she'd been getting prenatal care — but they re-evaluated expenses and decided not to continue," Dr. Pratima Gupta told the Associated Press.

"When I was doing the options counselling, she interrupted me halfway through, crying, and said, 'Dr. Gupta, I just walked here for an hour. I'm sure of my decision.'"

In Illinois, Planned Parenthood said it performed a record number of abortions in January, many of them motivated by economic worries, said CEO Steve Trombley, who declined to give exact numbers.

Planned Parenthood said it has no up-to-date national abortion figures, nor do other private or government agencies .

The Network of Abortion Funds, which helps women in need pay for abortions, said calls to the network's national helpline have nearly quadrupled from a year ago.

"A lot of women who never thought they'd need help are turning to us," said Stephanie Poggi. "They're telling us, 'I've already put off paying my rent, my electric bill. I'm cutting back on my food.' They've run through all the options."

'Babies are expensive'

Others, like Brooke Holycross, 25, of Port Orange, Fla., have changed their mind after they were offered financial assistance for an abortion.

After seeing an ultrasound of her 15-week-old fetus, Holycross decided to keep the fourth child.

"We're in a spot where we're scared," said Holycross, whose common-law husband was laid off. "Babies are expensive.… I'm just praying to God I did the right thing."

Urologists are also seeing more men seeking vasectomies.

Dr. J. Stephen Jones, a urologist at the Cleveland Clinic, said his monthly caseload rose from about 45 to more than 70 since November 2008.

"Several articulated very forcefully that the economy was the motive," Jones told AP. "I have a long discussion with them and ask if there's any chance they still might want kids. They say they know it's time."

In an interview with HealthDay News, Jones said some patients were concerned about losing their health insurance, but the motivation mainly seemed to be a reluctance to commit to raising another child in uncertain economic times.

Concerns over the recession could also affect the overall U.S. birth rate, experts said.

Last week, a government report showed a record number of babies were born in the U.S. in 2007.

With files from the Associated Press