Illinois action blog

Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Guttmacher study finds lowest abortion rate in 30 years

According to a new study by the Guttmacher Institute, abortion rates in 2005 hit a 30-year low. In Illinois, the abortion rate dropped 19 percent between 2000 and 2005, a larger than average increase. To me this seems like great news: it means that all of the work that Planned Parenthood and other health care providers are doing to prevent unintended pregnancy (and therefore the need for abortion) is working.

Seems like a great reason to invest more in comprehensive sex education and access to affordable birth control, doesn't it?

Yet there are a couple of caveats to this good news. For one, we still have a lot more to do to prevent unintended pregnancies in this country. Half of American women aged 15-44 have experienced an unintended pregnancy.

Secondly, lack of access for women who choose abortion remains a major issue. The Guttmacher Institute points out that the number of abortion providers in the U.S. has been on the decline since 1982. I think we got a pretty good glimpse of the challenges providers face in increasing access when we opened the center in Aurora. Eighty-seven percent of counties in the U.S. have no abortion provider at all, meaning one out of every three women has to travel to another county to obtain an abortion. This coupled with growing legal restrictions can make it very challenging for a woman in some parts of the country who chooses abortion to obtain one.

The Guttmacher study also found that more abortion providers are offering nonsurgical abortions (typically using the drug mifepristone). Medication abortion is playing an important role in stemming of the decline in providers and offers women an additional option early in pregnancy.

Technorati tags: abortion rates, access to abortion, medication abortion, Planned Parenthood Action Illinois

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