US Abortion Rates Drop 5 Percent, Largest Decrease In A Decade

Abortions in the United States fell 5 percent during the “Great Recession” in the biggest one-year decrease in at least a decade.

The reason for the decline was unclear, but experts believe it may have been due to better use of birth control during tough economic times. Experts theorized that some women believe they can’t afford to get pregnant.

Elizabeth Ananat, assistant professor of public policy and economics at Duke University said, “They stick to the straight and narrow … and they are more careful about birth control.”

Abortion rates have been dropping slightly over the last ten years, and appeared to be leveling off prior to this new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the CDC, both the number and rate of abortions fell 5 percent in 2009, the most recent year statistics were available from most states. While it is voluntary to report abortion statistics to the federal government, nearly all states in the country do.

Some states, including California, don’t send in abortion data. Experts believe there are more than 1 million abortions performed each year, but because of incomplete date, the CDC reported 785,000 abortions in 2009.

For consistency, the CDC focused on the numbers from 43 states and two cities that have been sending in data without interruption for at least a decade. Researchers found that abortions per 1,000 women of child-bearing age dropped from about 16 in 2008 to 15 in 2009 — a decrease of 38,000 abortions in one year.

Mississippi had the lowest abortion rate at 4 per 1,000 women. However, the state also has only a handful of abortion providers, but also has the country’s largest teen birth rate.

New York had the highest rate at nearly eight times higher than Mississippi’s. New York is second to California in number of abortion providers.

Since 2000, the number of reported abortions in the country has dropped by about 6 percent, and the rate has fallen 7 percent.

The study also found that the majority of abortions were performed by the eighth week of pregnancy. About 85 percent of women who received abortions were unmarried. White women had the lowest abortion rate at about 8.5 per 1,000 women. The rate for black women was about four times higher, and the rate for Hispanic women was about 19 per 1,000 women. Women aged 20 to 29 accounted for 57.1 percent of abortions.

Are you surprised by these statistics?

[Photo credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]