The US abortion rate declined to its lowest level since 1973, and the number
of abortions fell by 13% between 2008 and 2011, according to the latest
national survey of abortion providers conducted by a prominent research
The Guttmacher Institute, which supports legal access to abortion,
said in a report being issued that there were about 1.06 million abortions in
2011 down from about 1.2 million in 2008. Guttmacher's figures are of interest
on both sides of the abortion debate because they are more up-to-date and in
some ways more comprehensive than abortion statistics compiled by the federal
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
abortion fight in high gear
According to the report, the abortion rate dropped to 16.9 abortions per 1 000
women ages 15-44 in 2011, well below the peak of 29.3 in 1981 and the lowest
since a rate of 16.3 in 1973.
Guttmacher and other groups supporting abortion rights have been
apprehensive about the recent wave of laws restricting abortion access that
have been passed in Republican-controlled legislatures. However, the report's
authors said the period that they studied 2008 to 2011 predates the major surge
of such laws starting with the 2011 legislative session.
The lead author, Rachel Jones, also said there appeared to be no link to a
decline in the number of abortion providers. According to the report, the total
number of providers dropped by 4%, to 1 720, between 2008 and 2011, and the
number of abortion clinics declined by just 1% to 839.
According to Jones, the drop in abortions was likely linked to a steep
national decline in overall pregnancy and birth rates.
use improved during this period, as more women and couples were using highly
effective long-acting reversible contraceptive methods," she said.
"Moreover, the recent recession led many women and couples to want to
avoid or delay pregnancy and childbearing."
saves millions of lives each year
While the overall abortion rate declined, the proportion of abortions
entailing early medication procedures continued to increase. According to
Guttmacher, about 239 400 abortions of this type were performed in 2011,
representing 23% of all non-hospital abortions, an increase from 17% in 2008.
Impact of anti-abortion movement
Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, described
the overall drop in abortion numbers as evidence that the anti-abortion
movement's lobbying and legislative efforts were having an impact.
"It shows that women are rejecting the idea of abortion as the answer
to an unexpected pregnancy," she said.
Americans United for Life, another anti-abortion group engaged in the
efforts to pass restrictive state laws, said Guttmacher's numbers should be
viewed sceptically because they are based on voluntary self-reporting by abortion
"It is impossible really to know the true abortion rate," said the
group's president, Charmaine Yoest.
The report marked the 16th time since 1973, when abortion was legalised
nationwide, that Guttmacher has attempted to survey all known abortion
providers in the US. However, a section of the new report acknowledges that some
abortions might not be tallied.
The highest abortion rates were in New York, Maryland, the District of
Columbia, Delaware and New Jersey; the lowest were in Wyoming, Mississippi,
South Dakota, Kentucky and Missouri. However, Guttmacher said many women in
Wyoming and Mississippi, where providers are scarce, go out of state to get
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