The Hill

US Abortion Rates Dropping In Nearly All States; Strict Abortion Laws Don’t Appear To Affect Trend

Abortion Rates In America
The number of abortions have decreased across the states in America. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Abortion rates have been dropping nationwide, regardless of how accessible abortions are in each state.  The Associated Press surveyed the abortion rate data provided by 45 states, and nearly everywhere the rates have dropped since 2010. The decrease averages to 12 percent, but anti- and pro-abortionists disagree on the exact reason for the united drop.

Abortion-rights advocates attributed the declining rates to improved and effective birth control and contraceptives, along with a drop in unintended pregnancies. Meanwhile, anti-abortionists believed an improvement in societal beliefs can claim responsibility for the drop in the number of abortions. Although the exact reason for the drop remains unclear, several states with the most aggressive anti-abortion laws in the country, including Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, and Oklahoma, showed a decline of about 15 percent.

"There's an entire generation of women who saw a sonogram as their first baby picture," Charmaine Yoest, the president of Americans United for Life, one of the activist groups promoting restrictive abortion laws, told the Associated Press. "There's an increased awareness of the humanity of the baby before it is born."

The AP compiled the most recent abortion data from health departments in all 45 states, except those states that weren’t able to provide such data simply because they hadn’t been collecting since 2010. Instead, the states — California, Maryland, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Wyoming — started collecting in 2011, 2013, or 2014. Despite some missing state numbers, there was an overwhelming amount of data that demonstrated nationwide declines.  

Abortion Map America's abortion rates are decreasing despite how accessible they are in certain states. Photo courtesy of Associated Press

Two states did reveal a clear rise in the number of abortions performed in the last five years. Michigan’s 18.5 percent increase and Louisiana’s 12 percent increase were partially caused by women traveling from other states, such as Ohio and Texas, where there were strict and newly enacted abortion laws and clinic closures. According to Michigan’s health department, the abortions performed on nonresidents increased from 708 in 2013 to 1,318 in 2014.

"Better access to birth control and sex education are the biggest factors in reducing unintended pregnancies," Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told The Associated Press. "More restrictive abortion laws do not reduce the need for abortions."

But what does inevitably reduce the need for abortions is the record low rate of teen pregnancy. In 2010, the number of teens becoming pregnant dropped to its lowest level in decades—ultimately decreasing the need for an abortion. In order to help teens avoid unplanned pregnancies, Planned Parenthood Hawaii said the state improved women’s access to health insurance, affordable contraception, and public school sex education.

In turn, Hawaii had a 30 percent decline in abortions, which represented the biggest decline out of all 45 states. The other states with the biggest declines included New Mexico at 24 percent, Nevada and Rhode Island at 22 percent, and Connecticut at 21 percent. In all top five states, there have been no recently enacted abortion clinic or provider restriction laws made in the last five years.