"We've begun to depend on abortions," Forney said. "We feel we have to choose between our unborn child and our born children."
Martha Girard, on the other hand, says she's appalled by the notion that women should lose the right to choose.
A hospital ultrasound technician from Pleasant Prairie, Wis., and a mother of three, Girard had an abortion two years ago, at the age of 44, when she mistakenly thought she was too old to get pregnant.
Having been through three difficult pregnancies previously, and coping with a mentally disabled eldest son, she felt abortion was the prudent choice.
"I knew that this pregnancy would end up badly — I could feel it — and we've already got enough problems with the mentally ill son," Girard said.
"I was very sad and depressed the first week," she added. "But because it's hard on you emotionally and some women regret it, that doesn't mean it's wrong, that someone else should decide for you."
The Journal of Family Issues published a report earlier this month asserting that women often choose abortion because of their wish to be good parents.
That means women who have no children want the conditions to be right when they do, and women who already are mothers want to care responsibly for their existing children, said the lead author, Rachel Jones, a researcher with the Guttmacher Institute.
"These women believed that it was more responsible to terminate a pregnancy than to have a child whose health and welfare could be in question," Jones said.
Even among many abortion opponents, the Guttmacher Institute — which supports abortion rights — is considered the nation's best source of abortion statistics.
Federal statistics do not include California, the most populous state, because its government does not provide data. But Guttmacher researchers surveyed abortion providers there as well as in other states to produce the latest national estimate of 1.2 million abortions in 2005. That's down from a peak of 1.6 million in 1990 but still represents more than 20 percent of all pregnancies.
One of the Guttmacher's top researchers, Stanley Henshaw, said the recent drop may disguise the fact abortion rates remain relatively high for black and Hispanic women. He believes the most effective countermeasure would be wider availability of contraceptives such as intrauterine device, or IUDs, that don't require attention as frequently as condoms or birth-control pills.
Though abortion is commonplace across the country, urban areas have far higher…