National Partnership for Women & Families

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Rate of Abortion Clinic Closures Doubled Since 2011

Rate of Abortion Clinic Closures Doubled Since 2011

September 4, 2013 — Abortion clinics are closing at a record rate nationwide under state regulations designed to make it logistically difficult or prohibitively expensive for them to operate, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. According to research by Bloomberg, based on Guttmacher Institute data, one in 10 clinics -- totaling at least 58 -- have closed or stopped offering abortions since 2011.

In addition to the Guttmacher data, Bloomberg reviewed news reports, collected information from state health officials, and called current and former clinics listed on Operation Rescue's Project Daniel 5:25 website. The antiabortion-rights group launched the project in 2009 to determine the location of every abortion clinic in the U.S. In addition to the addresses of current and former clinics, the site publishes the names and photos of clinic owners and physicians.

Key Findings

According to the research, the number of abortion clinics peaked in the late 1980s, when about 705 such facilities were in operation. The number of clinics has been in decline ever since, with 591 in operation as of 2008.

The rate of closures began accelerating in 2011, when lawmakers passed 200 abortion restrictions, roughly the same amount that was cumulatively passed in the prior decade, according to Guttmacher. An average of 19 clinics closed annually over the last three years -- a rate that is more than double the rate of closures during the decade ending in 2008.

About one-third of closings were directly tied to state-level abortion restrictions, while the other closures were caused by a variety of factors, including demographic changes, declining demand, industry consolidation and doctor retirements.

For example, National Abortion Federation President and CEO Vicki Saporta noted that more private practitioners have begun offering medication abortions. At the same time, increased contraceptive use and more effective contraceptive methods have contributed to declining unintended pregnancy rates (Deprez, Bloomberg Businessweek, 9/3).