Abortion rates are down in the U.S. as women opt for blocking sperm, proving that contraception works when used properly. On Monday, a new study will be released that shows American women have reduced the number of abortions significantly for the first time in three decades. In 2011, women of childbearing age reported 1.1 million abortions representing a rate of 16.9 per thousand women, which is down from the 1.21 million abortions reported in 2008, that represented rates of 19.4 per thousand women. The numbers represent what researchers term as a downward spiral during the first decade of the new millennium.
The abortion decline is parallel with the number of reduced pregnancies in the U.S. Study authors, Rachel K. Jones and Jenna Jarman say the reduction has to do with better contraception including, “intrauterine” devices that younger women are taking advantage of. In other words, abortion rates are down because of contraceptives and blocking sperm that causes pregnancy. They cite concerns over economic stability during times of “recession” as playing a major part in abortions, and pregnancy reduction rates. Women want to know they can take care of children.
The Guttmacher Institute, is a private research group that affirms abortion rights. In their report, 2011 rates were much lower than the peak. Their findings list 1981 as having 29.3 per thousand.
The Guttmacher Institute is not off base in challenging the numbers. The upcoming study failed to substantiate the information with conclusive findings that make that some ground some ideas in more than theory.
Jarman and Jones, found that laws prohibiting abortion had only a small influence on women who had abortions during the study period. Liberal states like California and New York saw significant drops in abortion rates. Those with more stringent laws, “were not affected until 2011,” or later in some cases.
The authors realize, that the cost of running a facility where abortion is frowned upon leads to loss of funding. This stops practitioners from being able to offer low-cost services to women. They plan to include more of that information in the future reports. The plan is to “monitor” the effects of laws that restrict women from terminating unwanted pregnancies.
Dr. Carole Joffe, a sociologist at the University of California, San Francisco, is also an expert on abortion. The practicing historian says that while the effects were in fact “difficult to quantify,” that they do show that the opponents of abortion and their movement had been successful with “stigmatizing abortion.” The impact of that movement had a lot to do with the reduced numbers for abortions.
She also agreed that the report showed merit in stating that contraception use was “wider,” particularly with injectable hormonal drugs, and intrauterine devices. The former provides protection from pregnancy for up to four months and the latter up to 10 years.
Dr. Joffe, notes that the higher numbers of abortions in black, and Hispanic women as well as the poor, in comparison to white women with greater economic resources, was not reported. However, lack of access to inclusive medical care that requires insurance is a barrier for many women. Coming up with the cost of abortion is less than the overall cost of receiving consistent medical care through a private doctor. If abortion rates are down and using contraceptives for blocking sperm works in preventing pregnancy, perhaps contraception makes sense if one does not wish to become pregnant. Making contraceptives available and affordable seems like a practical solution for women to retain the right to make choices over what happens within the female body. “Long-term, more reliable methods can have high upfront costs,” Dr. Joffe said. She also notes “medical insurance and contraception,” have to be available to low-income women.
Opinion by C. Imani Williams