Human Rights Campaign Fact Sheet: Lesbian, Bisexual, Queer Women Who Have Been Pregnant Are More Likely to Need Abortion Services; Demonstrates Impact Roe Reversal Would Have on LGBTQ+ People

by Laurel Powell

Studies have shown that LGBTQ+ people, like most Americans, depend on abortion access, reproductive health, and family planning protections that are under threat.

WASHINGTON - Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, launched a new fact sheet on LGBTQ+ people & Roe v. Wade. This new resource highlights the importance of the protections enshrined in Roe v. Wade to members of the LGBTQ+ community. The data shows that LGBTQ+ women who have been pregnant are more likely to have had unwanted or mistimed pregnancies than heterosexual women and are more likely to need abortion services as well. Furthermore, their pregnancies are more likely to be the result of violence.

LGBTQ+ people depend on access to reproductive health care. If Roe is overturned, the impact on our community will be huge – particularly because data shows that lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer cisgender women, and transgender men and non-binary people assigned female at birth are just as – and sometimes more – likely to need abortion services. While it is normal and understandable to fear what a Court untethered to precedent will do to so many of our hard-won rights, we must not lose sight of the threat to our community posed by an overturn of Roe. Reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy are critical to our community – and the data shows it."

Shoshana K. Goldberg, Ph.D. MPH, Director of Public Education & Research at the Human Rights Campaign and author of the fact sheet

Some of the fact sheet’s most important toplines include:

LGBTQ+ people have abortions. Some specific LGBTQ+ groups are more likely than cisgender, heterosexual women to need abortion services.

  • Lesbian (22.8%) and bisexual (27.2%) women who have been pregnant are more likely than heterosexual women (15.4%) who have been pregnant to have had an abortion according to a new analysis of the 2017-2019 National Survey for Family Growth (NSFG) conducted by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation
  • After adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, and educational attainment, bisexual women, and heterosexual women with a history of same-sex partnering, were each over twice as likely as exclusively heterosexual women to have ever had an abortion.

Due to structural and logistical barriers, even under Roe, abortion is not always available for LGBTQ+ people. This leads them to be at risk for mistimed and unwanted pregnancies, or to consider self-managed abortion.

  • Over half (56%) of lesbian women who have been pregnant, and approximately two-thirds (65.3%) of bisexual women who have been pregnant, have ever had a mistimed pregnancy—one which occurred earlier in life than they would have liked—compared with less than half (47.6%) of heterosexual women
  • Over a third (38.9%) of lesbian women report ever having an unwanted pregnancy—one which, at the time they got pregnant, they did not want—compared with a little over a quarter each of bisexual (29%) and heterosexual (27.2%) women.
  • 36% of transgender people who had ever been pregnant had considered attempting to end their pregnancy by themselves “without clinical supervision” (e.g., a self-managed abortion). Almost one in five (19%) went through with this attempt, according to research from 2019. More than one in ten attempted self-managed abortion due to “difficult situations” such as fear of, or ongoing, intimate partner violence. Still others were denied care due to providers’ opinions on either abortion or the patient’s gender identity.

The end of Roe would be devastating for the safety of LGBTQ+ people, who are already at increased risk for sexual and physical intimate partner violence, and who may be at increased risk of a pregnancy resulting from a non-consensual encounter.

  • Data shows that over a third of lesbian women seeking abortion had experienced physical abuse from the person who got her pregnant. Additionally, over 7% of bisexual women had experienced sexual abuse, and almost one in ten had experienced physical abuse.
  • 14.8% of lesbian and 3.2% of bisexual women who had an abortion, compared to 1.2% of heterosexual women who had an abortion, reported the pregnancy was the result of a forced sexual encounter.
  • Over a third of lesbian women seeking abortion had experienced physical abuse (33.3%) or sexual abuse (34.6%) from the individual who got them pregnant.
  • 7.1% of bisexual women had experienced sexual abuse from the person who got them pregnant, and almost 9% had experienced physical abuse.
  • In comparison, less than 2% of heterosexual women had experienced sexual abuse from the person who got them pregnant, and only 3.6% had experienced physical abuse.

LGBTQ+ people, like their cisgender and straight peers, need access to the reproductive health care that allows them to achieve their fertility and family planning desires. LGBTQ+ adults are increasingly more likely to be parents, or to want to become parents. However, LGBTQ+ adults are increasingly reliant on assisted reproductive technology, rather than intercourse–creating an unmet need for many LGBTQ+ people who may lack the economic resources to achieve their fertility goals. These methods, like IVF, are threatened if Roe is overturned.

  • Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of LGBTQ+ adults surveyed by the Family Equality Council were considering methods of getting pregnant other than intercourse.
  • A little over 40% were specifically considering assisted reproductive technology (ART), such as IVF, IUI, and at-home insemination.

HRC acknowledges that the data above is only a start to understanding the impacts overturning Roe would have on the LGBTQ+ community. Significant shortcomings in data collection exist on the impact reproductive restrictions has on the transgender and non-binary community, as well as that community’s collective use of assisted reproductive technology.

For more information, the full fact sheet is available from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s website.

The Human Rights Campaign reports on news, events and resources of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation that are of interest to the general public and further our common mission to support the LGBTQ+ community.

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