NEW YORK —U.S. abortion rates have reached a historic low since 1973 when Roe v. Wade made abortion legal across the country, according to a newly released report from Guttmacher Institute.

This low is due to a decline in pregnancies overall, including increased access to birth control since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted in 2010.

“This report confirms what we’ve long known to be true — that increasing people’s access to affordable and effective methods of birth control leads to fewer abortions,” Dr. Gillian Dean, Senior Director of Medical Standards at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a prepared statement. The report also shows that restrictive state laws are not responsible for a reduction in abortion. This shouldn’t be up for debate.

“While birth control is basic, preventive health care, the Trump administration’s recent attack on Title X puts access to affordable birth control and other reproductive health care at risk for millions of people, especially people of color, people with low-incomes, and those living in remote or rural areas.

“Planned Parenthood serves 40 percent of Title X patients and provides birth control information and services to over 2 million people each year. We’re committed to offering information and education on the full range of birth control options to help our patients make informed decisions about which contraceptive method is best for them, and we’re proud to offer safe, legal abortion to those who need it.”

The report, which examined abortion trends between 2014 and 2017, found:

  • During this period, the rates of both abortions and births declined in almost all states — meaning fewer people became pregnant.
  • Overall, the rate of abortion decreased in all four regions of the country and in most states. There was a 7 percent decline in the total number of abortions since 2014.
  • In 2017, the rate of abortions in the United States declined to 13.5 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age, representing the lowest rate since 1973.
  • Regional and state disparities in abortion access grew even wider — while the number of health centers providing abortion in the Northeast and West increased, the number in the Midwest and South decreased.
  • Nearly 400 state laws restricting abortion access were enacted between 2011 and 2017, but Guttmacher found that these laws were not the main driver of the overall decline in abortions. In fact, 57 percent of the nationwide decline occurred in the 18 states, plus the District of Columbia, that did not enact any new restrictions.
  • Researchers noted factors that may have contributed to the decline in reported rates, citing a decrease in the number of women becoming pregnant, and increased access to long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) since 2011 — when the ACA required health insurers to cover birth control. A rise in unreported, self-managed abortions may have also played a role in the decline in the official rate.
  • Politicians seeking to pass restrictions on abortion have one goal in mind — to bring a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade to the Supreme Court, and make the procedure inaccessible in this country. This is despite the fact that a record-high 77 percent of Americans say they do not want to see Roe overturned, and that there is no state in this country where banning abortion is popular.

Image Sources

  • Contraceptives: Shutterstock