The Associated Press (AP) is reporting on the decline documented by the Guttmacher Institute, which was founded by Alan Guttmacher, a past president of Planned Parenthood. Their research, conducted among abortion providers, found that abortions dropped from 1.2 million in 2008 to 1.06 million in 2011. This means the abortion rate dropped to 16.9 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44 which is well below the peak of 29.3 recorded in 1981. The lowest rate was 16.3 which was recorded in 1973, the year that abortion was legalized in America.
At first glance, it might appear that the drop in abortion rates is due to the historic number of abortion restrictions passed since 2010, but these laws were not quite in effect yet. Nor does lead author Rachel Jones believe there is a link to the precipitous decline in the number of abortion providers in the U.S. which declined four percent since 2008. Instead, she believes the drop in abortions is due to steep declines in the pregnancy and birth rates.
"Contraceptive use improved during this period, as more women and couples were using highly effective long-acting reversible contraceptive methods," she told the AP. "Moreover, the recent recession led many women and couples to want to avoid or delay pregnancy and childbearing."
However, the rate of non-surgical abortions, which are the result of taking drugs such as RU-486, has jumped from 17 percent of all non-hospital abortions in 2008 to 23 percent in 2011.
Some pro-life leaders, such as Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, believe the drop in the abortion rate is proof that the pro-life movements efforts are paying off.
"It shows that women are rejecting the idea of abortion as the answer to an unexpected pregnancy," she told the AP.
Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, is not so sure and believes Guttmacher's numbers should be viewed skeptically because they are based on self-reporting by abortion providers.
"It is impossible really to know the true abortion rate," Yoest said.
According to the AP, 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.
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