The rate of abortions performed in the U.S. has hit its lowest mark since 1973. That is when the Supreme Court legalized the procedure, according to a new report.
In 2017, there were 13.5 abortions for every 1,000 women of childbearing age, a slight drop from 14.6 in 2014, according to a report from the Guttmacher Institute. This is an abortion rights research group. The abortion rate was 16.9 in 2011, by comparison.
The abortion rate has dropped nearly every year since 1980, when it reached a peak of 29.3, according to Guttmacher.
The group indicated that the drop was due to fewer women becoming pregnant, partly due to greater access to birth control.
“This means fewer people became pregnant, not that individuals chose or were made to give birth rather than have an abortion,” said Rachel Jones, a principal research scientist at Guttmacher.
There were more than 862,000 abortions performed in the U.S. in 2017, a 7 percent drop from 2014, the last time Guttmacher conducted the research.
“The anti-abortion activists will try to take credit for this decline, but the facts don’t support their argument.”
Anti-abortion groups have argued in the past that the falling abortion rates can be attributed to changing public perceptions about the procedure.
The report does note that the birth rate in the U.S. has fallen for four consecutive years. More women are also using long-acting, reversible contraceptive methods, like IUDs, that are highly effective at preventing pregnancy and can last for several years. Access to birth control has also increased since the passage of ObamaCare, which requires insurers to cover contraceptives without out-of-pocket costs.
Anti-abortion lawmakers in multiple states have passed a number of restrictions on providers in recent years forcing some clinics in the South and Midwest to close. But the report states the legislation is not the driving factor in the declining abortion rate.
Abortion rates were lowest, however, in four states where restrictions on abortion providers forced clinics to close: Arizona, Ohio, Texas and Virginia.
“Most egregiously, restrictions do keep some people from getting the abortions they want to obtain,” the report says.
Overall, the number of clinics performing abortions in the U.S. increased by 2 percent from 2014 to 2017, but dropped by 9 percent in the South in 2017 and by 6 percent in the West.