The Abortion Rate in the US Has Hit a Historic Low

The abortion rate in the United States has fallen to its lowest level since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalized the procedure, according to a new report from the Guttmacher Institute.

In 2014, the rate of abortions per 1,000 women averaged 14.6. At its highest point — in 1980 and 1981 — the abortion rate totaled 29.3 abortions per 1,000 women—a figure more than twice the amount reported in the Institute's recent research. Additionally, the study revealed that in 2013 the number of abortions in the U.S. fell to below 1 million for the first time since the 1970s—and the number continued to drop into 2014.

Though the Guttmacher Institute did not provide a definitive reason for why the abortion rate has decreased, the likely cause for the drop is the increasing availability of long-term contraception. The declining abortion rate corresponds with the introduction of the Affordable Care Act. With no-copay contraception — like IUDs — more available to a greater number of women, the number of unplanned pregnancies also dropped.

Many pro-life groups, however, attribute the Guttmacher Institute's findings to the growing number of abortion restrictions being enacted at the state level. But as the "Guardian" notes, "60% of the decline in the abortion rate took place in states that had not enacted new hurdles to getting the procedure," which means that these restrictive measures cannot be cited as the reason for the the declining rate nationwide.

Last week, New York Attorney General Eric Schnedierman introduced legislation to protect the ACA's no-copay contraception provision and several states, namely California and Illinois, have already passed laws to guarantee that birth control is covered. Colorado and Minnesota have also begun drafting similar legislation, and, depending on how serious Congress and the new president are about repealing the ACA, it won't be unlikely to see more states to follow their lead.

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