U.S. abor­tion rate falls to low­est level in decades, CDC says

Baltimore Sun - - NATION - By David Crary

NEWYORK— The num­ber and rate of abor­tions tal­lied by fed­eral au­thor­i­ties have fallen to their low­est level in decades, ac­cord­ing to data re­leased Wed­nes­day.

The an­nual re­port by the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, in­cor­po­rat­ing data from 47 states, said the abor­tion rate for 2013 was 12.5 abor­tions per 1,000 women age 15-44. It is down 5 per­cent from 2012.

The last time the CDC recorded a lower abor­tion rate was in 1971, two years be­fore the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade de­ci­sion that es­tab­lished a na­tion­wide right for women to have abor­tions. Abor­tion was le­gal in some states at that time.

The CDC tal­lied 664,435 abor­tions in 2013 from the 47 states, down 5 per­cent from 2012 and down 20 per­cent from 2004.

The CDC does not re­ceive abor­tion data from Cal­i­for­nia, Mary­land and New Hamp­shire; there­fore, its to­tal is less than the widely ac­cepted es­ti­mate of over 900,000 abor­tions per year in all 50 states.

In 1990, when Cal­i­for­nia sup­plied data, the CDC recorded a peak of more than 1.4 mil­lion abor­tions.

The CDC’s lat­est find­ings meshed with an As­so­ci­ated Press state-by-state sur­vey con­ducted last year — with ex­ten­sive data from 2014 — show­ing that abor­tions had been de­clin­ing in vir­tu­ally ev­ery state since 2010. There were big de­clines in con­ser­va­tive states that passed laws to re­strict abor­tions and also in more lib­eral states that pro­tected abor­tion rights.

The CDC re­port sug­gests there are sev­eral fac­tors be­hind the de­cline, in­clud­ing a drop in ado­les­cent preg­nan­cies, ex­panded cov­er­age of con­tra­cep­tion costs by health care plans, and in­creased use of long-last­ing con­tra­cep­tive meth­ods such as in­trauter­ine de­vices and hor­monal im­plants. Among the find­ings: Women in their 20s ac­counted for over 58 per­cent of abor­tions and had the high­est abor­tion rates. Young women and girls 19 and un­der ac­counted for 11.7 per­cent of abor­tions.

Two-thirds of abor­tions were per­formed within the first eight weeks, and nearly 92 per­cent by 13 weeks. Only 1.3 per­cent were per­formed af­ter 20 weeks — a point at which many an­tiabor­tion ac­tivists want a fed­eral abor­tion ban to be im­posed.

State abor­tion rates var­ied widely, from 3.6 per 1,000 women in Mis­sis­sippi to 24.3 in New York. Mis­sis­sippi is among a hand­ful of states with only one func­tion­ing abor­tion clinic.

Med­i­cal abor­tions — gen­er­ally us­ing the drugs mifepri­s­tone and miso­pros­tol — ac­counted for about 22 per­cent of abor­tions; sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dures ac­counted for nearly all the oth­ers.

About 15 per­cent of women who ob­tained an abor­tion were mar­ried. About 60 per­cent had pre­vi­ously given birth to at least one child.

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