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Abortion Rates Hit Their Lowest Point Since 1973

Jeffrey Bruno

Good news for the pro-life movement?

Since the legalization of abortion in the United States following the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, there has been a clear trend in the abortion rate, beginning first with a marked increase that hit its apex in 1980 and remained high throughout that decade, followed later by a gradual but steady decreasing trend in the 1990s. But now, abortion is at its lowest rate since 1973.

The Guttmacher Institute – Planned Parenthood’s research arm – revealed in a recent study that fewer than 17 out of every 1,000 women in 2011 had an abortion – a statistic that is only slightly higher than 1973. Guttmacher cites greater conctraceptive effectiveness as one cause of the decline, as well as the rough economy over the last few years (which they claim is a cause for which couples adhere more strictly to birth control).

But Rachel Jones, a senior researcher at Guttmacher and the lead researcher on the report, expressed qualms over the declining trend, saying that a continuation of this pattern could not be due entirely to “positive factors” – which, according to Jones, includes greater contraceptive use – citing instead the impact of abortion restrictions, which have been on the rise throughout the country in recent years.

Carol Tobias, President of National Right to Life, expressed satisfaction over the results of the latest study, saying, “We are extremely happy that the abortion numbers are going down and continue to be declining over the years.”

Tobias and representatives of other pro-life organizations, such as Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life, reject Guttmacher’s account of the decline in abortion rates, saying instead that the culture as a whole has become more keenly aware of life within the womb, and of the gritty reality of what abortion entails. This explanation also aligns with recent trends showing that support for abortion has been on a gradual but consistent decrease – a trend that shows a relationship with the corresponding drop in abortion rates. It is a trend that observers of the abortion debate continue to examine closely as proponents of the right to life continue to gain the upper hand.

Alberto González is the Associate Editor of Aleteia’s English edition. His prior endeavors have included working in political campaigns and in the United States Senate. He also maintains an active schedule as a liturgical vocalist and organist.

A native of California, Alberto graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2010 with a B.A. in Music and Political Science. He currently lives in the greater Washington, D.C. area.

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