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U.S. Abortion Rate Reaches Lowest Level Since Early '70s

alamosbasement/Flickralamosbasement/FlickrAbortion rates in the United States have been reaching record lows, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There's also evidence of more abortions being performed at earlier stages in pregnancies. 

In a new "abortion surveillance" report, the CDC explores data from 2002 to 2011 and finds the total number of abortions decreased 13 percent during this period. The abortion rate—that is, the number of abortions per every 1,000 women age 15 to 44—decreased 14 percent, and the number of abortions relative to births was down 12 percent.

Over this same time period, the CDC notes a 6 percent increase in abortions performed at eight weeks or less gestation, suggesting that women are catching and terminating unwanted pregnancies earlier. In 2011, almost 65 percent of all abortions were performed before 8 weeks gestation, and nearly all (91.4 percent) were performed by 13 weeks. Just 7.3 percent of abortions took place at 14-20 weeks gestation and 1.4 percent at or after 21 weeks. 

Overall, there were 13.9 abortions per 1,000 women in 2011, down 5 percent from 2010. There were 219 abortions performed per 1,000 births, down 4 percent from the previous year. Analysts say the decline has less to do with abortion restrictions passed in various states than with the recession and an overall decline in pregnancies and birthrates. 

Contra anti-choice rhetoric, America's abortion rate has been declining relatively steadily since the early 1980s. The CDC began keeping track of abortion statistics in 1969. Since then, the lowest abortion rate until now was seen in 1973 (16.3 abortions per 1,000 women) and the highest in 1980 (29.3 per 1,000 women). 

Photo Credit: alamosbasement/Flickr

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I have decided to pigeonhole ENB as Reason's abortion contributor.

  • Swiss Servator, Winter kommt!||

    But the keywords are "Abortion Reproductive Freedom Parenting"

    Parenting?

  • John Titor||

    Anti-parenting. Negaparenting if you will.

  • Swiss Servator, Winter kommt!||

    "Negaparenting"

    WIN.

  • GILMORE||

    "Reason's abortion contributor."

    Does Buttplug get an honorable mention as "Failed-Abortion Contributor"?

  • ||

    The hanger scars are a dead giveaway.

  • ||

    Does Buttplug get an honorable mention as "Failed-Abortion Contributor"?

    Yes

  • John Titor||

    *Lights Notorious G.K.C. signal*

    Here we go, abortion thread, again.

  • Swiss Servator, Winter kommt!||

    Needz moar deep dish pizza?

    *flees cackling*

  • Swiss Servator, Winter kommt!||

    I like deep dish too - but all that gets me around here is derision and Epi threatening to hate-bang my Mom.

  • ||

    There's nothing wrong with deep dish as long as you don't call it pizza. Same thing as calling tomato beef soup chili. (Although I've been forced by the World Chili Association to allow that beans may live in a product called chili.)

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    On several occasions, you've held lengthy abortion threads with me coming in only at the end.

  • Gadianton||

    anti-choice

    I hate euphemisms like this. Let's call a spade a spade: pro-abortion and anti-abortion.

  • John Titor||

    I do too. 'Pro-life' and 'pro-choice' are complete propaganda constructs, it's a cheap language trick you get you to accept the basis of their argument. Pro-abortion and anti-abortion are at least neutral to the arguments at hand.

  • Brian D||

    Anti-choice and pro-murder are more entertaining though, and, more importantly, do a better job of evoking the feels.

  • Shirley Knott||

    I would like to agree, but there are at least some of us who believe that the decision to abort or not belongs to the parent(s). We may not be in favor of abortion, we may be unwilling to consider it a choice we would make, but we are equally unwilling to impose our choice on others.
    That makes us pro-choice, not pro-abortion.

    It's not that different from a host of other issues -- freedom means other people get to do things you wouldn't do and may not approve of. May be in stark opposition to, in fact.

  • Swiss Servator, Winter kommt!||

    "parent(s)"

    Father gets a "choice"?

  • wareagle||

    and that was when Shirley lost her membership in the sisterhood.

  • Sudden||

    We may not be in favor of abortion, we may be unwilling to consider it a choice we would make, but we are equally unwilling to impose our choice on others.

    I hear this all the time and it remains the dumbest opinion possible on the subject.

    If abortion is simply the discarding of a cluster of cells lacking the most basic precepts of humanity, then there is no reason to "not be in favor of abortion." If you would not do so personally because of some belief that the developing fetus may indeed be distinctly human, then allowing its murder is a violation of NAP.

  • Florida Man||

    Sudden,
    There are situations where killing a human is not murder. Self defense is one of those reason. Some pregnancies are a threat to the mother's life and termination is recommended. Now if you allow that is legitimate and you believe people's medical records should be private then you can believe abortion should be considered legal termination of a human life while still not considering it murder.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Which has little to do with aborton rights. The advocates for that want the right to have an abortion regardless of whether there is a legitimate threat to the mother's health. The health aspect is utterly irrelevant to their cause except as a red herring argument.

  • Florida Man||

    Except if you believe that people should have a right to privacy in their healthcare and you believe in life saving abortion you have no practical way of banning abortion as a means of birth control.

  • Sudden||

    If you believe abortion is the termination of a human life, and yet you believe in the right to privacy, you have competing interests.

    Life generally trumps, especially in cases as rare as life of the mother at risk. The privacy interest of the mother is a less fundamental right than the life of a child in a narrow single case. The privacy interests of the maybe 1,000 lives at risk annually from pregnancy (and I'd wager it even rarer than that) is absurdly less worthy of protection than the 1,000,000 lives discarded to abortion.*

    *again, this rhetoric is specifically loaded because it is the underlying POV of someone who parrots the stupid "safe, legal, and rare" canard.

  • Florida Man||

    I guess it depends on which right you believe takes precedence. I believe your medical record should be completely private. I wouldn't want to open the door to government agents being able to access your private records anytime they feel like it.

  • Sudden||

    Life is THE most fundamental right. No other right exists in its absence. Ergo, where a competing rights claim exists and one of those competing rights is life, it trumps all others.*

    *again, premised on the "safe, legal, rare" hypocricy that essentially defers to the notion of a fetus being life.

  • LynchPin1477||

    If a Dr. in good standing is willing to sign off on an abortion being medically necessary to protect the mother, that would satisfy me. If there was probably cause to suspect that the Dr. was intentionally rendering a false opinion to get around the law, then I would be comfortable with a proper investigation that might look at the substance of the medical records in question without disclosing identifiable information of the patients involved.

  • Sudden||

    And that has fuck-all to do with Shirley's hypothesis. She supports the ability of a person to choose termination of a fetus without regard to the reason yet expresses reticence at the practice for her personally, an indication in some belief in the life of the fetus. Nothing in it has a goddamned thing about a the pregnancy risking the mother's life and that potential is so absurdly finite as to be rendered altogether moot in the discussion.

    No, this "safe, legal, and rare" bullshit is attempt to triangulate a position that is inoffensive to both sides when in reality it should be gravely offensive to both sides. You're telling pro-choicers they are indeed condoning murder instead of merely discharging a clump of cells and you're telling pro-lifers that you'd never murder personally but think others should have that right.

  • Florida Man||

    I was more struck by your use of the word murder. I believe abortion is the ending of a human life, but I also allow ending a human life is not always murder.

  • Sudden||

    I definitely agree that there is a distinction between killing and murder. All murders are killings but not all killings are murders. However, generally killing is not murder only when done in self-defense or (somewhat more debatable) when done as punishment fitting a crime (eye for an eye). There may be some scattered and extremely rare cases where the life of the mother is threatened. That's not the million that occur annually.

    Aside from that, I can think of no crime a fetus has committed so grave as to be worthy of murder.

  • Florida Man||

    I don't know how the statistics are compiled. How many of these abortions are termination for abnormal or demised fetuses? Philosophically I'm opposed to abortion as a means of birth control, but practically I'm not sure how you police them without an extreme invasion of privacy.

  • Sudden||

    Again, you have a competing rights claim. In all such examples of a competing rights claim I know of, the right to life is paramount and any other concerns are subsumed by that. I cannot shoot the guy driving the google streetview car because I'm worried about my face being identifiable anytime someone pulls up the intersection I was walking my dog that day.

  • Florida Man||

    Spontaneous abortion is not uncommon. Medically necessary abortion is not uncommon. The only way to parse which is a medically necessary/spontaneous abortion from an elective abortion is to treat them all as murder investigation and open a lot of women's medical records to the state. It is one more expansion of police power. I don't think we will find common ground because we disagree which threat to liberty is larger, medical privacy vs fetus rights.

  • Florida Man||

    Also sorry for the late reply. Had to do some work stuff.

  • Marktaylor||

    Absurd, it's like saying if murdering humans is illegal than every human that dies must be nvestigated as murder.

  • lap83||

    The vast majority of people, even pro-lifers, wouldn't want to throw a woman in prison for choosing her life over the fetus. But like Mickey Rat said, that isn't the real issue.

  • Shirley Knott||

    How is the question so starkly black and white, with no possibility for reasonable people to disagree?
    The question of whether a fetus is an individuated human person is not nearly so clear-cut as the, frankly, draconian dictates of the 'abortion is murder' crowd would have it. Nor is the status of the fetus so clearly "just a clump of cells with no other considerations allowed to interfere with the decision that need to be taken into account."
    The only genuinely stupid position is that the situation is so clear cut, so "morally obvious" that some people get to impose their decisions on others, where the status of the imposers and imposed upon is not in question.
    I'm willing, indeed, I'm prepared to insist, that the decision is difficult, not clear cut, and so outside the bounds of the decision making of those not directly involved in the question of whether to terminate the pregnancy or not. Bystanders, not matter how ghoulish their fascination for the subject, are *not* involved in the question and so can keep their stupid opinions to themselves.

  • Sudden||

    I fully agree that the issue is not so clear cut, hence my favoring a federalist approach to the matter instead of the court's faulty fundamental right interpretation.

    You seem to be supporting it as a fundamental right while still having misgivings about the morality of the practice, which indicates some sympathy with the argument that a fetus is indeed human.

  • Mickey Rat||

    You do not believe in the concept of intrinsic human rights. The question of the unborn's syatus is mostly controversial because it is convenient for killing them without compunction, not a principled position.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Ask a abortion rights advocate why they believe the unborn have no right to live. It comes out as a mass of rationalizations that they would not apply to any other classification of humam being, because it would either preclude abortion or open those other classes to being killed.

  • wareagle||

    How is the question so starkly black and white, with no possibility for reasonable people to disagree?

    because it is in the interests of both sides to make it so. Consider other sacred cows, like gay marriage or guns. There are anti-SSM people who have no quarrel with civil unions, making their argument more rhetorical than anything else. There are people who genuinely believe gun control without outright confiscation is possible. Abortion is framed such that there is no viable middle ground.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Then it is "pro-abortion rights". "Choice" is still a euphemism to hide behind the fact that you are advocating a right to choose to end another human organism's life. Which makes ot a bit different from choosing whether or not to get a piercing or what to have for lunch.

  • Restoras||

    ...pro-abortion and anti-abortion

    "I think of a man, and I remove reason and accountability"

  • ||

    +1 crack in the sidewalk.

    I watched that movie again about a year ago and was surprised that the receptionist he is talking to is a young Julie Benz (Rita from Dexter). Its unbelievable how much better she's gotten with age.

  • RAHeinlein||

    And that's As Good as it Gets....

  • The Laconic||

    I like "pro-abortion" and "pro-fetus".

  • WTF||

    Thank God the CDC is tracking abortion rates instead of wasting their time and resources on infectious diseases.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Pregnancy is more of a genetic disorder. If you're having a kid, you mother probably had one too.

  • John Titor||

    "Technically, pregnancy is the most common cause of tumours." -Random med student I knew.

  • Sudden||

    And bastardy is at its highest level ever.

    Why would you abort the goose that lays the golden egg? Womyn are onto something. They can get free monies for popping a bastard and future social problem into this world. No need to discard the fetus anymore.

  • ||

    We just need a bold new and progressive law that lets women get free money for 18 years from men just for having sex with them. It's all rape after all, so men should just pay.

    I'm thinking that Sweden beats us to this one, and maybe Limeytardia also.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    We have nothing on Scandinavia. In Iceland, 66 percent of births are out of wedlock.

  • Sudden||

    We will always beat the Scandies in terms of number of links SF'd

  • John Titor||

    Yeah but they've got to fuck foreign fishermen to prevent inbreeding. Or else Icelanders will start to get the Innsmouth look.

  • ||

    That, combined with only using patronymics and having a naming white-list has led to accidental inbreeding problems as well.

  • The Laconic||

    The world is just swarming with bastards as far as I can tell.

  • sorayahiltoniku||

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  • Swiss Servator, Winter kommt!||

    Feh. Shadyshakydonny was offering $78/hr or so for his sham job site!

  • ||

    You must give some hellacious blow jobs.

  • Swiss Servator, Winter kommt!||

    "Hey, GI, wanna see a lady and a donkey" for that kind of money.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    So, let's see, the abortion rate went up after Roe v. Wade, until 1980, which coincided with the revival of the prolife movement and the election of a prolife President - Ronald Reagan.

    And the abortion rate went down between 2002 and 2011 - which coincided except for the last two years with the term of a prolife President, not to mention the enactment of prolife laws on the state level.

    ENB, could you explain how this harms the prolife case?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    And to be clear, it went down in the 80s, when Reagan was President and the prolife movement was cranking up.

  • Elizabeth Nolan Brown||

    I don't believe anyone's suggesting it does.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    I may have misunderstood your comment: "*Contra anti-choice rhetoric,* America's abortion rate has been declining relatively steadily since the early 1980s." [emphasis added]

    This *seems* to suggest that you think this declining abortion rate scores a point against pro-lifers.

  • Elizabeth Nolan Brown||

    No, just that you'll often hear anti-abortion activists indicate that abortion is on the rise, when the opposite is true and has been for some time.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Hmmm...maybe some did, but I'm straining to remember if the prolifers in my own circle made such claims.

    I wonder if you have any links.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    And to repeat what I said below, you can deplore all the prolife laws and how they restrict access to abortion, OR you can say that the decline in abortions somehow discredits the prolifers, *but you can't maintain both propositions simultaneously.*

  • Warty||

    Children are disgusting and they eat all the time and they don't let me sleep or have sex. ABORT THEM ALL.

  • ||

    I would have told you all that beforehand if you'd asked.

  • Warty||

    Nobody thinks to ask.

  • lap83||

    It's bizarrely annoying how they tend to appear 9 months after having sex. What's up with that?

  • ||

    Ha, ha. You believe in Man Mothers*? lol.

    *If you haven't read Patrick Rothfuss, you're missing out.

  • John||

    If you are pro abortion, this statistic is only interesting if it is reflective of declining access. If you are anti-abortion, this statistic is completely besides the point. From the anti-abortion perspective, the abortion rate declining is about as consoling as some marginal reduction in the number of slaves held in the South would have been to an abolitionist.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    If it coincided with stronger antislavery laws - even if those laws fell short of abolition - then it would be a good sign.

  • Warty||

    If the abortion rate spontaneously dwindled to the point that only a tiny minority of people cared about abortion being outlawed, the dismembered-fetus poster crowd would be thrilled.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    We'd be happy, though as far as legality, we don't think we have the *option* of accepting legal abortion, so we'd have to keep fighting.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    PS - what's wrong with a poster of a dismembered fetus? I don't carry those myself, but if I did, why would it be wrong?

  • tarran||

    Do you not have the option of accepting legalized adultery, eddie?

    How about legalized divorce as well?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Which living human beings, in your view, should be denied the rights of persons under the law?

    Or is the fetus a living human being?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Um, no?

    OK, then, tell me how I've made a concession which is fatal to my case!

  • Swiss Servator, Winter kommt!||

    You mean not human until conception? That seems to be the common thought for pro-life.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    There we go, thank you.

  • Sudden||

    That which distinguishes humanity from all other living things is its DNA. An egg contains only 23 chromosomes. A sperm contains only 23 chromosomes. Neither meet the genetic fingerprint of humanity: a full 46 chromosomal set.

    Oddly enough, a fertilized zygote does.

  • John||

    True. But it would take a hell of a lot more of a dramatic fall in the rate, than this. There are still hundreds of thousands of abortions every year. For what you are describing to occur, it would have to fall into the thousands or hundreds. And this doesn't even begin to approach that. So it is a meaningless statistic from either side.

  • wareagle||

    I'm guessing it's fund raising time and the CDC has nothing else to do what with Ebola not enveloping the country.

  • lap83||

    "U.S. Abortion Rate Reaches Lowest Level Since Early '70s"

    BOOOO! /Jessica Valenti

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Bear in mind that if ENB had her way the abortion rate would probably be *higher.* She wants to get rid of parental notice/consent, waiting periods, minimum hallway widths for abortion clinics, she want's people who aren't doctors performing abortions, she wants abortion doctors without hospital admitting privileges, etc. etc., which would mean getting rid of existing prolife laws and making abortion easier.

    See how low the abortion rates would be *then!*

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    All right, but what ENB needs to realize is that you can choose between the following two positions, but *can't hold them simultaneously*:

    1) "OMG, these prolife laws restrict access to abortion!"

    2) "Look, the abortion rates are going down, that proves the prolifers are wrong!"

  • Sudden||

    It's pretty clear that the abortion rate is dropping so heavily because of the yeowomyn's work of Sandra Fluke and Barack Obama to ensure that all womyn had access subsidies for free birth control so they can whore it up willy nilly without having to worry about carrying the toxic progeny of one of the 12 men involved in the gangbang. Do you know how hard it is to determine paternity and ergo receive child support when your birth canal is getting run through more than the Chiefs defense last night?

    Sandra Fluke and Barack Obama: saving millions of unborn children since 2010!

  • wareagle||

    if only Derrick Thomas was still on the Chiefs. The man knew something about defense. And paternity. Double win.

  • Sudden||

    He was never particularly good against the run sadly. Although might be the greatest pure pass rusher of all time.

    Le sigh. I am goddamned angry about last night's debacle.

  • wareagle||

    I'm feeling your lack-of-defense-pain, albeit from a different team.

  • Sudden||

    You can have Dee Ford back.

  • John Titor||

    You'd need some kind of transhumanist uterus zipper.

  • John Titor||

    Only if the company logo is some partially dismembered cartoon fetus giving the thumbs up and winking.

  • The Laconic||

    I'm worried now whether the abortion rate is high enough.

    For God's sake, are we falling behind Europe?

  • GILMORE||

    Abortion is so 1990s.

  • Swiss Servator, Winter kommt!||

    That is just what you Warriors Against Womyn want everyone to think!

  • mr lizard||

    Anybody else have the rewards card?

  • lap83||

    buy 10 abortions get 1 free?

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Abortion rates in the United States have been reaching record lows, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


    That's great news, though I believe those stats would be even better if the Supreme Court allowed for the practice to be criminalized in the states where there is democratic consensus for it.

    Contra anti-choice rhetoric, America's abortion rate has been declining relatively steadily since the early 1980s.


    I have never heard a pro-lifer make claims to the contrary. In fact, quite the opposite: they often take credit for it! (Rightly so IMO.)

  • califernian||

    Great start.
    Next step: every law dictating anything about any medical decision whatsoever. Next.

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