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Ear to the Ground

Who’s Behind the Rapid Decline in Abortions in the U.S.?

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Posted on Feb 4, 2014

vociferous. (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


The abortion rate has hit a 30-year low, but anti-choicers had nothing to do with it. The true force behind the drop in the number of abortions is contraception, brought to you by Planned Parenthood and pro-choice activists who have effectively made it universal.

That’s right: universal. About 99 percent of sexually active women have used birth control before and a great majority are still using it. The worrying thing is, however, these numbers were true before conservatives started shutting down clinics left and right.

Slate:

[According to] the Guttmacher Institute, which records the abortion rate by surveying the known abortion providers in the country… between 2008 and 2011, the number of abortions fell to 1.1 million a year, a drop of 13 percent. Overall, abortion has been in a long-term decline for most of the time it’s been legal. In 1981, 29 women per 1,000 ages 15-44 had an abortion. In 2011, it was only 17 per 1,000.

Anti-choicers should avoid congratulating themselves for the decline, however. As the Guttmacher’s press release indicates, this descent happened before the most recent wave of abortion restrictions began closing clinics. Instead, it seems that women are just getting pregnant less often. Over the same period, the birth rate was also in decline, hitting a record low in 2012.

And sorry, Mike Huckabee, it’s probably not because women have decided they find sexual intercourse to be debasing. In fact, it’s pro-choice activists and groups like Planned Parenthood, with their tireless work at making contraception socially acceptable and affordable, that should take the credit….Since 2011, which is where this research ends, a lot has changed in the U.S. In the past year, the ability to prevent unintended pregnancy has improved under the Affordable Care Act through the contraception mandate and the Medicaid expansion, which will help reach low-income women who experience the highest levels of unintended pregnancy. Medically unnecessary but draconian state-level regulations in places like Texas have shut down a lot of clinics—so many that the remaining ones can’t handle the overflow of demand. (This almost certainly has to reduce the number of abortions counted, if only because the number of people counting them is going down.)

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—Posted by Natasha Hakimi

 

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