Abortion Decreasing, Especially Among Teens
Special Report - September 26, 2008
The U.S. abortion rate has dropped 33 percent since peaking in 1980, reaching its lowest level since 1974, according to a new report from the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute. The report, “Trends in the Characteristics of Women Obtaining Abortions, 1974 to 2004,” shows that the abortion rate declined from its peak in 1980 of 29 abortions per 1,000 women ages 1544 to 20 abortions per 1,000 women in 2004. Much of this decline occurred among teenagers. According to the Guttmacher report, “A substantial drop in the abortion rates of teenagers and women aged 2024 accounts for much of the overall decline from 1989 to 2004.” In fact, according to the report, the teenage abortion rate has dropped by more than half, from 42 abortions per 1,000 teens ages 15 to 19 in 1989 to 20 per 1,000 in 2004. The percentage of abortions performed on teenagers has declined as well, from 33 percent in 1974 to 25 percent in 1989 and then to 17 percent in 2004.
As to be expected from one of the nation’s leading advocates of condom-based sex education, the Guttmacher Institute attributes the decline in teen abortions to increased use of contraception, noting that the decline “began long before abstinence-only sex education programs began receiving federal funding.” However, a recent analysis of state abortion laws from the Family Research Council found that state parental involvement laws contributed to the nearly 50 percent decrease in abortions performed on minors between 1985 and 1999. According to Dr. Michael New, a University of Alabama professor who conducted the study, the teenage abortion rate decreases by about 13.6 percent when a state enacts a parental involvement law, with a larger decline in states that require parental consent or two-parent involvement. Currently, 36 states, including North Carolina, have parental involvement laws in place.
Although the overall decline in the abortion rate occurred among all racial and ethnic groups, the Guttmacher report notes that abortions continue to be more common among minorities. For example, the abortion rate in 2004 was three times as high among Hispanic women and five times as high among black women than among non-Hispanic white women. The Guttmacher report also offers a detailed look at the characteristics of women obtaining abortions during the 30-year time period. Among the findings:
- Women in their early 20s now have the highest abortion rate of any age group, with more than half of women obtaining an abortion in 2004 in their early 20s.
- Unmarried women account for the largest proportion of women obtaining abortions (86 percent in 2004).
- 60 percent of women who had an abortion in 2004 already had children, increasing from 50 percent in 1989 and 46 percent in 1974;
- The vast majority of abortions (89 percent) occurred in the first trimester. “Early term” abortions (seven weeks or less) increased from 16 percent in 1994 to 28 percent in 2004.
“The sharp decline in the abortion rate over the past 30 years is welcome news, especially for the unborn babies whose lives have been spared and the women who have been spared from the suffering that comes after abortion,” said Matt Lytle, director of research for the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “It is also encouraging that the abortion rate has dropped among teenagers. Even so, abortion continues to take the lives of millions of unborn children in this country, especially in minority communities. The pro-life community must continue to press forward, working toward the day when no child’s life is threatened and no woman’s life forever altered by the travesty of abortion.”
Copyright © 2008. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.