The legal abortion rate continues to drop, but will this be the case with more restrictions?

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In 2011, the Guttmacher Institute reported that the “U.S. abortion rate declined to 16.9 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 in 2011, well below the 1981 peak of 29.3 per 1,000 and the lowest since 1973 (16.3 per 1,000)”. This is a 13% drop since 2008.

In more recent years, the CDC reported that the U.S. abortion rate declined again with “12.5 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, and the abortion ratio was 200 abortions per 1,000 live births”. It is important to note however that “from 2004–2013, the number, rate, and ratio of reported abortions decreased 20%, 21%, and 17%, respectively. In 2013, all three measures reached their lowest level for the entire period of analysis (2004-2013).”

So then in 2008, why did then presidential-candidate Barack Obama claim that abortion rates had not gone down?

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It turns out that “Obama made his comments to Warren in the context of cutting the number of abortions. He said he wanted to find ‘ways that we can work together to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, so that we actually are reducing the sense that women are seeking out abortions.’ In that context, his comment about abortions made sense. Guttmacher data showed that 49 percent of pregnancies were unintended in 2001, unchanged from 1994.”

Knowing this, what is really causing the abortion rate to decrease in the United States? The Guttmacher Institute did not provide a full explanation in addition to their reported findings, however they suggested that “the decline in abortions coincided with a steep national drop in overall pregnancy and birth rates. Contraceptive use improved during this period, as more women and couples were using highly effective long-acting reversible contraceptive methods, such as the IUD. Moreover, the recent recession led many women and couples to want to avoid or delay pregnancy and childbearing.”

With this, we are left to ask the question: what will happen to the abortion rate if we see the GOP nominee make his way to the White House?

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Some of his policy positions listed above from NARAL suggest that women will not have the same access to contraception use as they did under the former Republican presidency. The issue always seems to come back to access and limiting those who are disadvantaged by way of money, transportation, and schedules, in whatever way possible. Something to worry about come election day? It does not seem to be however this is a point that must be considered when looking at both the state and federal levels of government.

And that’s your #ExpertOpinionoftheWeek

Written by: Lauren King

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