According to new research from the Guttmacher Institute, abortion rates in the United States are at their lowest since 1973. But before the right-wing politicians who have been working so hard to butt their way into women’s private medical decisions get all excited, the decline in abortions isn’t a result of the rash of anti-abortion legislation we’ve seen lately.
The Guttmacher study was conducted between 2008 and 2011, and most of the new state abortion restrictions didn’t go into effect until 2011 or later. The number of abortion providers decreased by only 4% over the course of the study, and the number of abortion clinics declined by just 1%. So if limited access to abortion didn’t drive the decline, what did?
CONTRACEPTION. That’s right, it turns out that all those women on their slutty slut pills are bringing down the abortion rate. The Guttmacher researchers note that the decline in abortion rates coincides with an overall national decline in birth and pregnancy rates. This suggests that women are choosing to exercise more control when it comes to family planning. Researchers say that contraception use improved during the study period, and attribute part of the decline to the increasing use of long term, highly effective forms of contraception like the IUD. They also say that the recession led many women and couples to choose to delay having children, something commonly seen in times of economic hardship.
In 2011, there were 16.9 abortions per every 1,000 women aged 15 to 44. The peak abortion rate was in 1980, when there were 29.3 abortions per 1,000 women. The lowest abortion rate on record was in 16.3 per 1,000 in 1973, when the Supreme Court made its historic decision in Roe v. Wade.
Imagine that. Give women access to birth control and they’ll have fewer abortions. Wait, isn’t that something that advocates for reproductive health and choice have been saying forever? Yes, yes it is.
[Lead image via Samuel Borges Photography/Shutterstock]