Tags: abortion | pregnancy | birth rates | contraception

Fewer Pregnancies Reason for Drop in Abortions: Experts

Fewer Pregnancies Reason for Drop in Abortions: Experts
(Kyle Simpson/Dreamstime)

By    |   Friday, 12 June 2015 01:26 PM

The nation's abortion rates have been steadily declining since the early 1990s, and while pro-life activists say the decline is because of the hundreds of restrictions that have been enacted against the procedure, experts say the real reason is because fewer women are getting pregnant in the first place.

"If women's attitudes were really shifting, we would see the birth rate go up," said Elizabeth Ananat, an associate professor of economics at Duke University who studies the economics of fertility, reports FiveThirtyEight. "Instead, birth rates are falling, too."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the nation's birth rate reached a record low in 2013, falling by 2 percent between 2010 and 2013 and 9 percent between 2007 and 2013.

Meanwhile, an Associated Press survey released earlier this week showed the number of abortions that were performed each year went down by about 12 percent in the years between 2010 and 2014, and have been steadily dropping since the early 1990s.

There have been numerous abortion restrictions passed in the United States in recent years, particularly in southern and Midwest states controlled by Republican lawmakers.

Such restrictions include waiting periods, pre-abortion counseling and policies requiring women look at fetal images, closing dozens of clinics. Americans United for Life President Charmaine Yoest said the laws force women to understand abortion decisions more fully.

"There’s an entire generation of women who saw a sonogram as their first baby picture,” she told the AP. "There’s an increased awareness of the humanity of the baby before it is born."

But abortion rights advocates say the rates are dropping because birth control has been made more affordable through Obamacare, which requires insurance companies to cover most forms of birth control without a copay.

There may be something to the contraception argument, the experts said, but noted that pregnancy rates are falling among teens, and abortion rates also fell in states like New York and Connecticut, where there are not many restrictions on the procedure.

Joerg Dreweke, a spokesman for the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights, said fewer teenagers are becoming pregnant because more are using contraceptives.

Another issue is that many women are reconsidering when they have children. Women in their 20s account for about 57 percent of all abortions, but the economy may be making women, especially those in that age group, think again before chancing a pregnancy.

"People think of pregnancies as being either planned or unplanned, but there’s sometimes some middle ground there, some 'let’s see what happens,'" Ananat said. "People’s ambivalence tends to evaporate during a recession, and they’re more careful about birth control use because they’re more certain they don’t want to get pregnant."

The new affordability of birth control through Obamacare is also minimizing upfront costs for long-lasting and more effective birth control devices, such as the IUD, and as a result, the number of women using that device jumped to 12 percent.

"There’s been a push to expand the IUD and implant to women who were using contraception ineffectively in the past, because long-acting birth control had big upfront costs, and they couldn’t afford it," Ananat said.

These factors have resulted in lower abortion rates, she said, but newer restrictive laws may affect when women get abortions. Most women who have the procedure do it early in their pregnancies, but the laws are causing delays.

"We know that restrictive policies don’t deter most women from getting abortions, but it can delay them," Ananat says. "The idea that women’s attitudes toward abortion are changing, though — we just don’t have evidence for that."

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The nation's abortion rates have been steadily declining since the early 1990s, and while pro-life activists say the decline is because of restrictions enacted against the procedure, experts say it's because fewer women are getting pregnant in the first place.
abortion, pregnancy, birth rates, contraception
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2015-26-12
Friday, 12 June 2015 01:26 PM
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