After a three year plateau, abortion incidence rates decreased from 19.4 abortions per 1,000 women in 2008, to 16.9 abortions per 1,000 women in 2011, according to a study released by the Guttmacher Institute. The drop in number of abortions represents the lowest abortion rate since 1973, “the year the Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide,” reported NPR. (For SCOTUS Blog reports on Roe v Wade, click here.)
The 13 percent drop in abortion rates between 2008 and 2011 in women aged 15 to 44, demonstrated a continued downward trend in abortions since the rate plateaued between 2005 and 2008. According to the study’s lead author, Rachel Jones, state abortion restrictions and lower numbers of abortion providers were not linked to the national decline in abortions. “Rather, the decline in abortions coincided with a steep national drop in overall pregnancy and birth rates,” Jones stated in a news release. “Contraceptive use improved during this period, as more women and couples were using highly effective long-acting reversible contraceptive methods, such as the IUD. Moreover, the recent recession led many women and couples to want to avoid or delay pregnancy and childbearing,” she said.
Although state legislation restricting abortion was not linked to abortion rate results in this study, Guttmacher notes that “states enacted 205 abortion restrictions between 2011 and 2013, more than in the entire previous decade combined.” Guttmacher state issues manager Elizabeth Nash stated, “As we monitor trends in abortion going forward, it is critical that we also monitor whether these state restrictions are preventing women who need abortion services from accessing them.”
Carol Tobias, the president of National Right to Life, disagrees, stating, “Abortion remained widely available. But after years of being told that abortion was ‘the best choice’ or ‘their only choice,’ women are learning that there are alternatives to abortion that affirm their lives and the lives of their children,” reported CNN. “The bottom line is simple: the right-to-life movement is succeeding because even after 41 years and more than 56 million abortions, the conscience of our nation knows that killing unborn children is wrong.”
The authors also noted the limitations of the study, including the inability to contact every abortion provider, and some missing early medication abortions. Charlotte Lozier Institute president Chuck Donovan noted, “As welcome as news of this decline is, more information is need,” reported CNN. He went on, “The Guttmacher data is based on completely voluntary reporting by abortion providers. Until we have consistent reporting requirements, inclusive of states with high abortion rates and gathered by publicly accountable bodies, we cannot begin to paint a complete picture of U.S. abortion trends.”