The Guttmacher Institute’s just-released abortion report –– “Abortion Incidence and Service Availability in the United States, 2011” –– is good news for the pro-life community. The abortion rate (abortions per 1,000 women) dropped to 16.9 in 2011 – the lowest rate since 1973
- In 2011 the number dropped to 1.06 million abortions –– 43,000 fewer than the 1.1 million in 2010
- The number of abortions has been falling about 4-5 percent a year since 2008
- The abortion rate declined in almost all 50 states and the District of Columbia. States that saw a slight increase or no change: Alaska, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, West Virginia and Wyoming
- The total number of abortion providers declined 4 percent between 2008 and 2011
- The number of abortion clinics (where 94 percent of procedures are performed) declined by 1 percent
- In 2011, 89 percent of counties had no clinic
So how does the Guttmacher Institute interpret their findings in light of their pro-abortion mantra, “safe, legal and rare?” They don’t appear to be too pleased, but then, they began under the auspices of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In the press release, Elizabeth Nash, the state issues manager for Guttmacher said, “As we monitor trends in abortion going forward, it is critical that we also monitor whether these state restrictions are preventing women who need abortion services from accessing them.” Well, Iowa is one state where the drop in abortions had nothing to do with the lack of clinic access. The number of clinics in Iowa rose (10 in 2008; 17 in 2011 – 70% increase) and yet, the abortion rate dropped (11.3 in 2008 to 9.7 in 2011 – 14% decrease).
Even the authors of the study, Rachel Jones and Jenna Jerman, admitted that abortion rates are falling in almost all states, but they denied that the decline resulted from “new state abortion restrictions” or from the “drop in the number of abortion providers during this period.” Since 2010 though, the number of pro-life laws has skyrocketed. In 2011 there were 92 pro-life laws passed, in 2012 there were 43 passed. In 2013 there were 70 more. In 2013, 81 clinics closed and six others ceased doing surgical abortions but still administer chemical abortion pills. As the 2012 and 2013 laws begin to take effect, the numbers of abortions should continue to drop.
The increase in chemical abortions is a problem. The report claimed that “early medication abortion” is safe “through nine weeks’ gestation” and “estimated that 36% of abortions up to nine weeks’ gestation in 2011 were early medication procedures” (up from 26% in 2008). Guttmacher also reported that 98% of medication abortions “were done with mifepristone, and the rest with methotrexate or misoprostol alone.” The FDA makes it clear on their Mifepristone webpage that their approved regimen is through 49 day’s pregnancy (7 weeks). Deeper problems also emerge when a chemical abortion fails and the women also undergo a surgical abortion – two abortion procedures for one pregnancy.
And yet, the report shows women choosing life. They mentioned that the Healthy People 2010 goal, established in 2000, to reduce unintended pregnancies was not met (the 2001 to 2008 rate increased from 48 to 51 percent). They then note that the number of women with unintended pregnancies choosing abortion dropped from 47 percent to 40 percent in the same time period. They wonder if abortion access is the reason.
The entire report struggles to find reasons other than the influence of pro-life messages and policies to explain the decrease in abortion. They are unwilling to admit that the answer could be as simple as American women not needing or turning away from abortion.
The Guttmacher report glaringly omits the Healthy People 2010 final review showing abstinence programs are exceeding expectations.
- The review indicates that the goals for reducing teenage pregnancy almost hit the 100 percent mark (95.8%).
- The 1996 high in teen pregnancy (63 out of a 1000), now hovers around 40 (goal was 39).
- Under-15-aged girls exceeded the goal of abstinence (114.3 percent); under-15 boys are at 66.7 percent.
- Girls ages 15-17 reached almost 77 percent of the goal and boys reached almost 78 percent.
The abstinence goal numbers are from 2006 through 2008. The Guttmacher report notes a 13 percent decline in both the number and rate of abortions after that time period, 2008-2011. Guttmacher claims the new laws couldn’t have been behind the abortion decline because they weren’t in place before 2011 (while acknowledging that changes in sexual activity influence abortion rates). Yet, they posit better contraceptive use for the drop and neglect to mention the data attesting to the effectiveness of abstinence programs, especially for girls.
Even while dodging around the truth, Guttmacher’s latest report clearly shows that new pro-life laws, strong pro-life messages and effective abstinence education are related to the decline in abortions.
Editor’s Note: A version of this article was published by the Washington Times. Click here to read it.