A new study from the Guttmacher Institute has come out with a result that we can all applaud: abortion rates are at their lowest since 1973. Aside from occasional plateaus or short increases, the abortion rate has been on the decline since 1981. The study did not seek out the cause of the decrease in abortion rates, but there is enough evidence to suggest one basic conclusion: if you want abortions to keep decreasing, support Planned Parenthood.
Why? Well, here’s a hint, it’s the exact opposite of what 2012 (and 2016?) Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum says in what might be his most famous sound bite:
To those of us for whom contraception is okay, the study results present some interesting findings. While all we have is correlative data, and correlation is not causality, we can make some broad observations from the Guttmacher Institute abortion study:
The drop in abortions is related to a drop in overall pregnancies. That’s to say that the ratio of pregnancy to abortion hasn’t dropped as much, but overall pregnancies have decreased.
Abortion rates decreased in every region and almost every state. There is no obvious correlation between political lean and abortion rate decrease. The Midwest (17%) and West (15%) saw the largest drops, while the South (12%) and Northeast (9%) saw lesser declines. Many of the states that had smaller decreases already had low abortion rates.
The decrease in abortion rates occurred before the slew of abortion restricting laws in Republican states. The Guttmacher Institute reported that states have enacted more abortion restrictions between 2011 and 2013, which is more than the entire previous decade. The data on the decline in abortion rates, however, only goes up to 2011.
Contraception became more widespread and more effectively used as abortion rates declined. This would help explain why fewer people are getting pregnant overall. The only IUD (Intrauterine Device) currently on the market was developed in 1976. IUDs have a high success rate of preventing unwanted pregnancies, and can’t be forgotten or ignored the way condoms or birth control pills can.
More study is needed to pin these conclusions down, but the results definitely suggest a conclusion: making it easier to prevent unwanted pregnancies leads to fewer pregnancies, and fewer pregnancies leads to fewer abortions. Planned Parenthood, which provides family planning services, contraceptive devices from condoms to IUDs, and yes, abortions, is part of the solution, not the problem.
Not exactly rocket science, but the right, which has made a cottage industry out of demonizing Planned Parenthood, in the name of fighting abortion won’t like this conclusion: Planned Parenthood has likely prevented more abortions than anti-abortion laws ever have.
Or in other words, offering cheap or free contraceptive services (as Obamacare does) will help prevent abortion, which runs contrary to the recent words (and probably most famous sound bite) of former Governor and 2008 Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee: