The latest Guttmacher Institute survey finds the abortion rate in the United States has dropped to its lowest level since 1973, with the number of abortions declining by 13 percent between 2008 and 2011.
In addition, the report indicates the abortion rate fell to 16.9 abortions per 1,000 women of ages 15-44 in 2011, significantly below its height of 29.3 in 1981, and at its lowest point since 1973 when the rate was 16.3.
Interestingly, Guttmacher observes that the period of time studied in the report – 2008 to 2011 – predates the great surge in state abortion laws that have restricted late-term abortions and tightened health and safety standards in abortion clinics.
Furthermore, the report indicates that the total number of abortion providers declined by four percent to 1,720, between 2008 and 2011, and the number of abortion clinics fell by just one percent to 839.
According to Guttmacher, about 239,400 abortions via medication were performed in 2011, which is about 23 percent of all non-hospital abortions, and is an increase from 17 percent in 2008.
Rachel Jones, the study’s main author, said the drop in abortions was probably related to a sharp 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,” Jones said. “Moreover, the recent recession led many women and couples to want to avoid or delay pregnancy and childbearing.”
However, Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, said the overall decline in abortions is evidence that the pro-life 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.
Pro-life organization, Americans United for Life, said Guttmacher’s results should be viewed cautiously because they are based on voluntary self-reports from abortion providers.
A section of the new report, which will be published on Monday, acknowledges that the number of abortions may not be accurate.
“It is impossible really to know the true abortion rate,” said Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life.
Guttmacher found that the highest abortion rates were in New York, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Delaware, and New Jersey. The lowest rates were found in Wyoming, Mississippi, South Dakota, Kentucky, and Missouri.