The number of abortion procedures performed nationwide in recent years has fallen to levels not seen since 1973, according to a new report released by the Guttmacher Institute of New York City.

According to data collected in the study, out of every 100 pregnancies in 2011, only 21 were terminated—down from 2008, when 23 pregnancies out of every 100 ended in abortion.

The institute, which focuses on moving sexual and reproductive health forward internationally, found that between the years of 2008 and 2011, approximately 17 women out of every 1,000 aged 15 to 44 had an abortion.

“This is a study that the Guttmacher Institute has been doing for four decades,” senior research associate and lead author Rachel Jones told the AFRO. “I would say that we were surprised at the extent of the decline. To see a 13 percent drop in the number of abortions and the abortion rate over a three-year time period is a pretty big change in behavior over a relatively short period of time.”

The report found that the passing of 106 new abortion restrictions nationwide in that time, a four percent decline in the number of abortion providers, and a one percent drop in the number of abortion clinics had little influence on the abortion rate.

“The best available evidence suggests that one reason for the decline in abortion is that more women are using highly-effective methods of contraception, such as the IUD,” said Jones. “In turn, women are better able to plan their pregnancy and fewer women are becoming pregnant when they don’t want to be.”

According to the report, 30 percent of all women under the age of 45 will have an abortion at some point.

The study showed that women choosing to have abortions are doing so earlier in their gestation and by way of medication, not medical procedures performed in a hospital.

The study did not differentiate between abortions performed as a result of unwanted pregnancy and abortions conducted to save the life of the mother, but Jones said the latter situation accounts for a very small portion of all abortions.

Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer