Women are taking more control of their reproductive health and a recent report brings truth to how they are handling pregnancy or lack thereof in this case.
In a report by the Guttmacher Institute, data show that the abortion rate in the U.S. declined to its lowest point since 1973, the year Roe v. Wade was decided subsequently making abortions legal.
“The best available evidence suggests that part of the decline in the abortion rate is due to more women using highly effective methods of contraception that allow them to better determine when they want to get pregnant,” said Rachel Jones, senior research associate for the institute and lead author of the study.
Dr. Brad Weber, associate professor for the department of OBGYN at IU Health agrees and said today there are more options for birth control that go beyond “the pill.”
“Intrauterine devices are becoming more popular. Another factor is Plan B, also known as the morning after pill, that is now available over the counter,” said Weber.
“I also would say that part of it has to do with better consent laws. Women know more. Ultrasound has had a huge impact on that. Women now know that an unborn child is alive,” said Marc Tuttle, director of Right to Life of Indianapolis.
There was also a slight decline in the number of abortion clinics and the number of providers between 2008 and 2011.
Jones said the recent recession led many women and couples to want to avoid or delay pregnancy and childbearing. Women have also said a baby would interfere with work, school or other children.
“I first got the procedure at 19 years old because I was a freshman in college and felt that was not the right time for me to start a family,” said Shelby Smith.
The institute said more than half of pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended, and about 40 percent of unintended pregnancies end in abortion. Weber reminds people that all forms of birth control other than hysterectomy and abstinence, have some sort of failure rate.
Tuttle adds that about 6,000 abortions occur annually in Indianapolis.
Betty Cockrum, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said the organization is delighted the abortion rate is decreasing and that they fully support family planning.
“Ninety-five percent of our services are preventive health care. We’ve always made the argument that nobody does more to reduce abortion in Indiana than we do. You do that by reducing the incidence of unintended pregnancy,” said Cockrum.
The decreased abortion rate findings give hope that women are taking better control of their reproductive health yet this recent study did not provide any demographic information. All but six states – Alaska, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, West Virginia and Wyoming – experienced a decline in their abortion rate but it is currently unknown if there were decreases in certain racial or age groups.
Jones said the institute is working on updating demographic data this year. An institute report looking at 2000-2008 rates said that although the abortion rate decreased 11 percent between 1994 and 2000, it actually increased 25 percent for poor women. In addition, some groups have typically been overrepresented among abortion patients, including women in their 20s, cohabiting women, and African-American women.