Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The abortion rate in the U.S. in 2011 was at its lowest level since the procedure was legalized in 1973 with only 16.9 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 three years ago, according to the reproductive health researcher Guttmacher Institute.
The rate corresponds to an estimated 1.1 million abortions in 2011, Guttmacher said citing a study published on its website on Monday. The number is down from 1.21 million abortions performed in 2008, the most recent year for which the Guttmacher researchers have complete abortion data.
In 1973, the abortion rate was 16.3 per 1,000 women aged 15-44, the study titled “Abortion Incidence and Service Availability in the United States” said. The rate reached its peak in 1981 when there were 29.3 per 1,000 women.
The study’s lead author, Rachel Jones, said the decline in abortion rate in 2011 was not the result of new state abortion restrictions nor a drop in the number of abortion providers from 2008 to 2011. The study also found that the total number of abortion providers declined by only 4 percent during the period, and the number of clinics, which provide the large majority of abortion services, declined by just 1 percent.
Jones attributed the decline in abortions instead to a steep national drop in overall pregnancy and birth rates.
“Contraceptive use improved during this period, as more women and couples were using highly effective long-acting reversible contraceptive methods, such as the IUD,” she said. “Moreover, the recent recession led many women and couples to want to avoid or delay pregnancy and childbearing.”
The study further found that abortion rates dropped in all four U.S. regions and in all but six states during 2008-2011: Declines were steepest in the Midwest (17 percent) and the West (15 percent), and less steep yet noteworthy in the South (12 percent) and Northeast (9 percent).
The researchers based their findings on a census of all known abortion providers in the United States.