The Abortion Rate is Dropping Faster Than Ever

The Washington Post reports:

After years of holding steady, new Center for Disease Control data shows that the United States abortion rate has fallen to an all-time low. It dropped 5 percent between 2008 and 2009, the most recent years for which data is available, the largest decline in the past decade.

The big question for public health researchers is: Why? What was different in 2008, that might have lead to this downtick in abortions?

The answer is contraception. Contraception use reduces the amount of unintended pregnancies, which reduces the need for abortions.

The CDC data can tell us a bit of this story. Alongside the drop in the overall number of abortions, the agency also found a decline in the abortion ratio. That figure measures the number of pregnancies terminated for every 1,000 live births. That number dropped too, from 232 in 2008 down to 227 in 2009, a 2 percent decrease. That suggests that the story here isn’t just about fewer pregnancies. We can see in the data that the decisions women make after becoming pregnant are playing a role, with more deciding to continue with the pregnancy rather than terminate.


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