The answer seems to be widely available birth control and the rise of long-term contraception methods. Congress is deciding whether some of that that will continue.
Every month for the past few years, I've strolled into my pharmacy and out with my monthly birth control prescription without ever taking out my wallet. And every month I think to myself, Damn, that was easy.
If this level of accessibility and affordability was available to everyone who wanted to have a say over if and when they become a parent, then it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect fewer unplanned pregnancies and abortions, would it? Interestingly enough, that's exactly what we saw happen in recent years.
@bedsider / Via instagram.com
Let's start with the US abortion rate, which recently hit a record low in 2014.
As of 2014 (the most recent year available), the US abortion rate reached the lowest rate ever recorded at 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44, according to the most recent analysis by the Guttmacher Institute. This marks a 14% decline since 2011.
The data comes from a Guttmacher study in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. The numbers differ slightly from 2013 surveillance data from the CDC (the most recent year available), which put the abortion rate at 12.5 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44. The CDC requests their data from state health departments, while Guttmacher surveys their database of all US facilities known or suspected to perform abortions in a given time period. Neither offers a definitive number of abortions happening in the US each year, but they're the best estimates we have.
Guttmacher Institute / Via guttmacher.org
Experts say that abortions are down for reasons that have to do with birth control, not abortion restrictions.
According to the Guttmacher study, the total number of abortion facilities dropped 3% between 2011 and 2014, but changes in clinic numbers didn't always correspond to fewer abortions in those states. Similarly, an increased number of abortion restrictions coincided with clinic closings in some, but not all, states.
"The best available evidence suggests that improvements in contraceptive use were responsible for the decline in abortion rates," Rachel K. Jones, PhD, principal research scientist at Guttmacher Institute, tells BuzzFeed Health.
Monik Markus / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: 42954113@N00