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Abortion Rate Hits A New Low

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, January 17, 2008 11:51 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDa and Prescription Drugs


The national abortion rate is at its lowest level since the 1970s.


The U.S. abortion rate is down 25% to its lowest level since abortions were approved in this country in 1973.

No one is sure why, but the the numbers will likely be used by both sides ofthis politically charged social issue. 

A new report by the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit organization that supports choice, will be published in the March issue of its journal, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. Even abortion opponents regard the Institute with credibility.

1.2 million abortions were performed surgically in 2005 compared to 1.6 million in 1990.  That translates to one in five pregnancies terminating in abortion today versus one in three in the 1980s. 

Numbers don’t always tell the full story.  While fewer women are choosing to end their pregnancies, which may be the result of cultural acceptance of pregnancy outside of marriage, others are opting for medication abortions.

Under a doctor's supervision, a woman takes two pills to end her pregnancy. Medication abortions accounted for 13 percent of the abortions the survey found.

More than half of all abortion providers offer a medication alternative which are generally done earlier in a pregnancy. The FDA approved the pills in 2000. A woman can not only avoid surgery but angry crowds that may collect outside an abortion clinic.

Then there is the morning after pill RU- 486, which is FDA approved for use up to 49 days gestation and is administered by some physicians who do not perform surgical abortions.

Non-medical procedures are being carried out at a time when the number of abortion clinics has decreased by 15 percent or four dozen clinics. 

Women’s health clinics and private doctors offices are making up the slack. While most of these options are found in urban areas, Guttmacher finds that access to abortion has not improved for women living in rural areas.

"It's harder for protesters to target these physicians, but it's also harder for women to find them," said Rachel K. Jones, a senior research associate at Guttmacher.

One quarter of patients who chose surgical abortion reportedly had to travel at least 50 miles to find a provider. The study finds that 87 percent of U.S. counties offer no abortion services, and that figure is constant since 2000.

A concern for the children is the main reason the institute finds women choose abortion, but more needs to be done to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place.

“Our policymakers at the state and federal levels need to understand that behind virtually every abortion is an unintended pregnancy, so we must redouble our efforts towards prevention, through better access to contraception,” says Sharon L. Camp, president and CEO of the Guttmacher Institute.

This study comes out days before the 35th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, a Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. #


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