The abortion rate in the USA has dropped to its lowest level since the procedure became legal in 1973, according to a new data analysis that reflects a 13% decline in both the abortion rate and the number of abortions from 2008 to 2011.
The report being issued Monday by the Guttmacher Institute in New York finds the 2011 rate declined to 16.9 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44, second only to 1973, when the rate was 16.3 per 1,000. Declines were seen in all but six states — Alaska, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, West Virginia and Wyoming — which saw either no change or an increase in abortion rates.
“A 13% percent drop over a three-year time period is a pretty steep decline. It’s unusual,” says Rachel Jones, the lead author of the study by Guttmacher, a research organization that supports the right to legal abortion and seeks to expand access to information on sexual and reproductive health.
Jones attributes the decline to more women using “highly effective contraceptive methods such as the IUD” and the fact that the study period was during the recession and sluggish recovery.
“Births have been falling for awhile, and the recession certainly accelerated the decrease in births,” says economist Ted Joyce of Baruch College in New York, who has studied reproductive health since 1985.
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