Pro-Life, Pro-Choice Groups Debate Causes of Declining Abortions

Pro-Life, Pro-Choice Groups Debate Causes of Declining Abortions

A new report released by the pro-abortion rights Guttmacher Institute states that the abortion rate among American women has dropped to its lowest level since 1973, a finding that has the authors concerned that new state restrictions on later term abortions and regulations that tighten the health and safety standards of abortion clinics could cause these numbers to decline even further.

According to a New York Times report, Rachel Jones and Jenna Jerman, the authors of the study, noted that their work focused on the time period between 2008 and 2011 – which is prior to most of the recent state abortion restrictions.

“Some of the new regulations undoubtedly made it more difficult, and costly, for facilities to continue to provide services and for women to access them,” the authors said, and added that future studies would monitor the effects of new state abortion laws.

The researchers’ conclusion, however, is that the rate of abortions declined because of increased use of contraception.

“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.”

Americans United for Life, a pro-life organization, said the report was “long on strained conclusions” and that it failed to accurately portray the impact of anti-abortion education and laws.

Carole Joffe, a sociologist at the University of California, San Francisco, agreed that the wider use of contraceptives is an important factor in the decline of abortions. She added, however, that the anti-abortion movement had “been very successful at stigmatizing abortion” and that this aspect was likely influential as well.

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life, told Breitbart News that recent studies show that teens are now delaying sexual activity, largely due to education programs that warn about the consequences of sex.

“Teens delaying sex means less unintended pregnancies, which results in fewer abortions,” Hawkins said.

“As compared to abortion views when abortion rates were their highest, today those most vulnerable to abortion are more likely to reject it,” Hawkins added. “In 1991, a majority of young people viewed abortion favorably, and the abortion ratio was 27.4 percent (abortions/total pregnancies). In 2011, a majority of young people viewed abortion negatively, and the abortion ratio was 21.2 percent.”

Hawkins said that the declining rate of abortions shows that if states are willing to assert themselves against the abortion industry, abortion rates will drop.

“Those states with the lowest rates in the report have some of the toughest regulations against those who commit abortions,” she said. “Those states with the highest abortion rates in the Guttmacher report have the least amount of abortion restrictions.”

In a press release, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said, “While working to pass lifesaving laws the pro-life movement has also been educating Americans about the reality of abortion, steadily changing hearts and minds.” She explained:

The debates going on in the states and on the federal level to protect babies after 20 weeks, ban sex-selection, stop taxpayer funding of abortion, and more, are evidence themselves that our arguments are convincing. The child in the womb is increasingly being seen for what she is: a second victim of the violence of abortion. Guttmacher’s new report is another indication that our nation is indeed growing weary of the destruction wrought by legalized abortion on demand.

However, in the same press statement, Chuck Donovan, president of CLI, warned, “As welcome as news of this decline is, more information is needed.”

“The Guttmacher data is based on completely voluntary reporting by abortion providers,” Donovan said. “Until we have consistent reporting requirements, inclusive of states with high abortion rates and gathered by publicly accountable bodies, we cannot begin to paint a complete picture of U.S abortion trends.”

Donovan called for improvement in the process of collecting data. 

“States like Arizona and Minnesota prove excellent examples of how improving data collection can allow public and private entities to better serve women and their unborn children,” he said.