KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

U.S. Abortion Rate Drops, But Not For The Reasons You Might Think

A new study finds that the rates are lowest in 40 years. 

Los Angeles Times: U.S. Abortion Rate In 2011 Lowest Since 1973, Study Says
The U.S. abortion rate fell in 2011 to its lowest level since the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing the procedure, Roe vs. Wade, according to a new study. Research by the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit organization that supports abortion rights, found that in 2011 there were 16.9 abortions for every 1,000 women ages 15-44. In 1973, the rate was 16.3 abortions per 1,000 women. In all, there were about 1.1 million abortions in 2011, down 13 percent from 2008 (Hamedy, 2/2).

The Washington Post: Study: Abortion Rate At Lowest Point Since 1973
The study did not examine the reasons for the drop. But the authors suggested that one factor was greater reliance on new kinds of birth control, including intra-uterine devices such as Mirena, which can last for years and are not susceptible to user error like daily pills or condoms (Somashekhar, 2/2).

NPR: Abortions Reportedly Drop To Lowest Rate Since 1970s
[T]he authors said they found no evidence that the passage of had any impact on the latest decline. "While most of the new laws were enacted in states in the Midwest and the South, abortion incidence declined in all regions," the study noted. And some states that are generally supportive of abortion rights, including those allowing Medicaid payment for abortions for poor women, "experienced declines in their abortion rates comparable to, and sometimes greater than, the national decline," the study said (Rovner, 2/2). 

The Associated Press: Report: U.S. Abortion Rate At Lowest Since 1973
The lead author, Rachel Jones, also said there appeared to be no link to a decline in the number of abortion providers. According to the report, the total number of providers dropped by 4 percent, to 1,720, between 2008 and 2011, and the number of abortion clinics declined by just 1 percent to 839 (Crary, 2/2).

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