JANUARY 24: Rachel Eder of Quantico, Virginia, bundles up against frigid temperaturs during an anti-abortion rally ahead of the March for Life on the National Mall January 24, 2011 in Washington, DC. Copyright Getty Images
Hide Caption

Report: US abortion rate at lowest since 1973

a a a a
Share this story

NEW YORK (AP) -- The U.S. abortion rate declined to its lowest level since 1973, and the number of abortions fell by 13 percent between 2008 and 2011, according the latest national survey of abortion providers conducted by a prominent research institute.

The Guttmacher Institute, which supports legal access to abortion, said in a report being issued Monday 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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 percent, to 1,720, between 2008 and 2011, and the number of abortion clinics declined by just 1 percent to 839.

According to Jones, the drop in abortions was likely linked to a steep national decline in overall 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 said. "Moreover, the recent recession led many women and couples to want to avoid or delay pregnancy and childbearing."

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 percent of all non-hospital abortions, an increase from 17 percent in 2008.

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 skeptically because they are based on voluntary self-reporting by abortion providers.

"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 legalized nationwide, that Guttmacher has attempted to survey all known abortion providers in the U.S. 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 abortions.

---

Online: HTTP://WWW.GUTTMACHER.ORG/

---

Follow David Crary on Twitter at HTTP://TWITTER.COM/CRARYAP

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More Health News
Michigan man among 1st in US to get 'bionic eye'
Michigan man among 1st in US to get 'bionic eye'

A degenerative eye disease slowly robbed Roger Pontz of his vision.

Kids get codeine in ER despite risks, guidelines
Kids get codeine in ER despite risks, guidelines

Despite recommended limits on codeine use in children, the potent painkiller is prescribed for children in at least half a million emergency…

Batter Up! Health, safety at a diamond near you
Batter Up! Health, safety at a diamond near you

In this week's "Ask the Nurse," spring means bats are swinging, balls are flying, and players of all ages are sliding into…

Salmonella decline seen in food poisoning report
Salmonella decline seen in food poisoning report

The government's latest report card on food poisoning shows a dip in salmonella cases but an increase in illnesses from bacteria in raw…

Study: Girls view sexual violence as normal
Study: Girls view sexual violence as normal

New research from the journal Gender & Society shows girls view sexual violence as a normal part of life.

Study: Diabetic heart attacks, strokes falling
Study: Diabetic heart attacks, strokes falling

In the midst of the diabetes epidemic, a glimmer of good news: Heart attacks, strokes and other complications from the disease are plummeting.

How safe is your favorite restaurant?
How safe is your favorite restaurant?

A WCPO analysis of 32,474 violations at 5,579 food-service facilities found ethnic restaurants have higher violation counts per inspection…

Prof: Want fewer preemies? Stop cycle of abuse
Prof: Want fewer preemies? Stop cycle of abuse

A local girl's  haunting story should serve as a wake-up call about the vulnerability poor young girls, in our city and in our…

Diabetics beware: Here come insurance companies
Diabetics beware: Here come insurance companies

Diabetics beware. Your insurance company is looking for you.

Can new face change look of health care system?
Can new face change look of health care system?

Abruptly on the spot as the new face of "Obamacare," Sylvia Mathews Burwell faces steep challenges, both logistical and political.