New Centers for Disease Control data finds that, after years of holding steady, the abortion rate in the United States has dropped to a low of 15.1 for every 1,000 women of reproductive age.
There were 784,507 total abortions performed in the United States in 2009, the most recent year for which figures are available. This represents a 5 percent decrease from 2008—the largest decline in a decade.
Data also indicated a decline in the abortion ratio, which measures the number of pregnancies terminated per every 1,000 live births. This ratio dropped from 232 to 227 between 2008 and 2009—a decrease of 2 percent. Texas comes in below the national average, with an abortion rate of 14.5 per 1,000 women and an abortion ratio of 186.
The decrease in both numbers might indicate that women’s decision-making process after they become pregnant might be changing, with more women deciding to continue rather than terminate their pregnancies, according to a Washington Post report.
Some researchers suggest that the recession plays a role in the abortion rate decline, with Americans becoming stricter with their family planning as they see their budgets tightening. More conclusive findings, however, suggest that the economy has only a slight influence on the abortion rate and may work in an opposite way, as unemployment rates and abortion rates generally increase simultaneously.
A more plausible explanation for the decreased abortion rate might be women’s more effective use of contraceptives. A study from the journal Fertility and Sterility revealed that the use of long-acting contraceptives such as intrauterine devices had tripled between 2002 and 2009, with most of this increase happening within the last two years.
Between 2002 and 2007, the proportion of contraceptive users this method increased from 2.4 percent to 3.7 percent, and then skyrocketed to 8.5 percent between 2007 and 2009.