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AP: Abortions Have Declined in Most States, Including Many That Ensure Access to Clinics

June 8, 2015 — Abortions have declined since 2010 in states that have enacted antiabortion-rights laws and those that have not, which abortion-rights supporters attribute to expanded access to contraceptives, according to an Associated Press analysis, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Background

For the analysis, AP analyzed data from 45 state health departments that compile comprehensive data on abortions. According to the AP/Chronicle, most of the data are from 2013 or 2014. States not included in the analysis include California, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Wyoming.

According to Elizabeth Nash, the Guttmacher Institute's senior state issues associate, 31 states have enacted a total of 267 abortion restrictions since 2011. Some of the laws have been blocked by judges, but the majority have taken effect, which has led in part to about 70 abortion clinics in 12 states closing since 2010, according to the AP/Chronicle.

Analysis Findings

Overall, AP found that the number of abortions across the U.S. decreased by 12% since 2010.

Five of the six states that experienced the largest declines in abortions have not passed any recent antiabortion-rights measures. For example, Hawaii experienced the greatest decline -- at 30%, from 3,064 in 2010 to 2,147 in 2014 -- which Laurie Temple Field, Planned Parenthood of Hawaii's government relations director, attributed to women having increased access to affordable contraceptives and health insurance. She also credited Hawaii's comprehensive sexuality education in public schools.

The other four states with the largest declines in abortions that have not passed any recent abortion restrictions were New Mexico, Nevada, Rhode Island and Connecticut, which all had their number of abortions drop by at least 20%.

Judy Tabar, CEO at Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, partly attributed the decline in abortions in Connecticut and Rhode Island to women having increased access to long-acting reversible contraceptives because of the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148), the law's Medicaid expansion and other programs. Overall, Planned Parenthood health centers across the U.S. have reported a 91% jump in the use of contraceptive implants and intrauterine devices since 2009.

Meanwhile, several other states that have protected access to abortion -- including New York, Oregon and Washington -- all experienced declines in abortions of more than 15%. That is about the same rate as states such as Indiana, Missouri, Ohio and Oklahoma, which have all significantly restricted abortion access, according to the AP/Chronicle.

The only two states that had significant increases in their abortion rates since 2010 were Louisiana and Michigan, which have both enacted antiabortion-rights laws. Michigan's number of abortions increased by 18.5%, while the number of abortions in Louisiana increased by 12% between 2010 and 2014.

Abortion-rights opponents attributed the increases to women coming to Michigan and Louisiana from other states that had enacted more severe antiabortion-rights restrictions. Lori Carpentier, CEO at Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan, said another contributing factor to Michigan's increase was that the state did not provide adequate public funds for family planning.

Ellie Schilling, an attorney who represents abortion clinics in Louisiana, said the state could decrease its number of abortions by taking steps to reduce teenage pregnancies, including expanding sexuality education. The increase in the number of abortions "is absolutely not because access has increased," she said, adding, "There were fewer clinics and doctors in 2014 than 2010."

Comments

According to the AP/Chronicle, some abortion-rights opponents attributed the decline in abortions to changing cultural attitudes toward pregnancy.

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards said, "Better access to birth control and sex education are the biggest factors in reducing unintended pregnancies. More restrictive abortion laws do not reduce the need for abortions."

Similarly, Nancy Northup, CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said, "All of this effort is being spent on passing legislation and on litigation, when in fact what those states should do is take a look at the ... states" that support abortion rights "and what they're doing right in decreasing abortions" (Crary, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 6/8).