The number of abortions performed in the U.S. has fallen to its lowest level since 1971, according to the Center for Disease Prevention and Control’s annual report released Wednesday.
The data was compiled by the federal department from statistics recorded by 47 states. California, Maryland and Massachusetts do not report data.
Teen pregnancy has also fallen dramatically in America since the early 1990s, and is likely tied to the decline in abortions. The Guttmacher Institute credits increased access to contraception and comprehensive sexual education to the decrease.
“The decline in the teen pregnancy rate is great news,” says the Guttmacher study’s lead author Kathryn Kost. “Other reports had already demonstrated sustained declines in births among teens in the past few years; but now we know that this is due to the fact that fewer teens are becoming pregnant in the first place. It appears that efforts to ensure teens can access the information and contraceptive services they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies are paying off.”
The dwindling rate of abortions is a nationwide trend, occurring in both conservative states with strict abortion laws, and liberal states with more lax regulations. Although the CDC agrees with the Guttmacher Institute, pro-life groups say that the decline has happened because access to abortions has been restricted.
The CDC argues there are fewer unwanted pregnancies therefore fewer abortions. Pro-life groups believe there are less abortions simply because women do not have access to make that choice, as a result of increased regulations.
“The decline in the number of abortions, and in the abortion rates and ratios, is a clear indication that pregnant women are increasingly less likely to see abortion as the desired solution to an unexpected pregnancy,” said National Right to Life director of education and research Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon.
“Right-to-life legislative, educational and outreach efforts to increase awareness of the unborn child’s humanity certainly continue to play a critical role in the abortion decline,” he continued.
Whatever the reason, it’s interesting to note that although abortions are happening less and less, the pro-choice vs. pro-life debate is still in full swing. The American people can expect to hear more and more about this as President-elect Donald Trump gears up to pick a Supreme Court nominee.
The landmark Supreme Court case Roe vs. Wade, which established the legality of abortions across the U.S., was decided in 1973.
[AP via CBS News] [Guttmacher Institute] [Life Site] [Photo courtesy Susan Walsh/AP via WBUR]