Meanwhile, survey finds abortions dropping, due either to laws or contraception
The pro-life movement received two positive items of news this week, as an Associated Press survey found that the number of abortions are down throughout the country, and a federal appeals court upheld key parts of a Texas law restricting the practice.
The decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday upheld the Lone Star State’s requirements that abortion clinics meet hospital-level operating standards, AP reported. Owners of small clinics say the law requires them to spend millions of dollars to upgrade their facilities, and if they are thereby forced to close, many women will be hundreds of miles away from an abortion provider. The court said that clinics have failed to prove that the restrictions would unduly burden a "large fraction" of women.
"Abortion practitioners should have no right to operate their businesses from sub-standard facilities and with doctors who lack admitting privileges at a hospital," said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Abortions have declined in states where new laws place restrictions on obtaining one, but they’ve also declined in states where abortion laws are more liberal, the AP survey found. Nearly everywhere, it said, abortions are down since 2010:
Explanations vary. Abortion-rights advocates attribute it to expanded access to effective contraceptives and a drop in unintended pregnancies. Some foes of abortion say there has been a shift in societal attitudes, with more women choosing to carry their pregnancies to term.
Several of the states that have been most aggressive in passing anti-abortion laws — including Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, and Oklahoma — have seen their abortion numbers drop by more than 15 percent since 2010. But more liberal states such as New York, Washington and Oregon also had declines of that magnitude, even as they maintained unrestricted access to abortion.
Nationwide, the AP survey showed a decrease in abortions of about 12 percent since 2010.
"There’s an entire generation of women who saw a sonogram as their first baby picture," said Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life. "There’s an increased awareness of the humanity of the baby before it is born."
AP quoted, among others, Elizabeth Nash, a state-issues expert for the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion research group, who said that a total of 267 abortion restrictions have been enacted in 31 states since 2011. Among them are measures that ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, impose hospital-like physical standards on abortion clinics, and require doctors who perform abortions at clinics to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
Judy Tabar, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, said the declines in Connecticut and Rhode Island were due in part to expanded access to long-lasting contraception methods that are now fully covered by health insurers under the federal Affordable Care Act, Medicaid expansion and other initiatives. Nationwide, Planned Parenthood — the largest abortion provider in the U.S. — says its health centers report a 91 percent increase since 2009 in the use of IUDs and contraceptive implants.