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Abortion Rate Continues to Fall as More Women Have Access to Affordable Birth Control

The number of abortions in the United States continues to decline. According to data collected by the Guttmacher Institute, the procedure is now performed less frequently than at any time since abortion was legalized nationally in 1973.

Abortions fell by 196,000 from 1,058,000 abortions in 2011 to 862,000 in 2017. This represents a 19% decline and continues a trend that now goes back decades. The abortion rate (the number of abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44) also fell by 20%, from 16.9 in 2011 to 13.5 in 2017.

The raw data is fairly clear cut, but the reasons are a bit more complex. For instance, conservatives would point to new abortion restrictions in some states, but that doesn't seem to be a factor.

AP: "The new report illustrates that abortions are decreasing in all parts of the country, whether in Republican-controlled states seeking to restrict abortion access or in Democratic-run states protecting abortion rights."

Instead, Guttmacher attributes the decline to greater access to affordable birth control, which makes sense because unwanted pregnancies are the principal driver for abortions. Specifically, they credit The Affordable Care Act [Obamacare] which has made it possible for more women to afford birth control.

Guttmacher: "One possible contributing factor is contraceptive access and use. Since 2011, contraception has become more accessible, as most private health insurance plans are now required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to cover contraceptives without out-of-pocket costs. In addition, thanks to expansions in Medicaid and private insurance coverage under the ACA, the proportion of women aged 15–44 nationwide who were uninsured dropped more than 40% between 2013 and 2017. There is evidence that use of long-acting reversible contraceptive methods—specifically IUDs and implants—increased through at least 2014, especially among women in their early 20s, a population that accounts for a significant proportion of all abortions. Another study suggests that the use of IUDs might have increased in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, spurred by fears that such methods could become more expensive to access in the future. Notably, contraceptive use has driven the long-term decline in adolescent pregnancies and births, which continued through the 2011–2017 period."

Another abortion researcher put it a bit more succinctly.

Vox: ”When contraceptives aren’t available, women use abortion, even if it isn’t legally sanctioned and even if it puts them at great physical risk,” Diana Greene Foster, an associate professor at University of California San Francisco who studies abortion and contraception, recently told me over email. “When contraceptives are more available, use of abortion declines.”

#news #abortion #health #healthcare #ACA

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