This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Abortion Rate Drops in the US

The Guttmacher Institute released a report today showing that the abortion rate in the United States as of 2011 (the most recent date for which information is available) has dropped to its lowest level since 1973 when the Supreme Court upheld its legality. My initial conclusion when I heard the headline on TV this morning was that the strategy of going state-by-state to limit access to abortions had been working. However, as noted by USA Today, the author of the report pointed out that the time frame of their study--2008-2011--actually preceded most of these efforts. So, if not that, then what?
"Rather, the decline in abortions coincided with 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. Moreover, the recent recession led many women and couples to want to avoid or delay pregnancy and childbearing."
The study, published online in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, also finds an increase in the proportion of abortions that were early medication abortion. The non-surgical procedure uses the drug mifepristone, often called the abortion pill or RU-486, or the drug misoprostol. An estimated 239,400 early medication abortions were performed in 2011, representing 23% of all non-hospital abortions, an increase from 17% in 2008, the report says.
I don't personally know anyone who thinks that abortion is a preferred method of birth control, but other methods don't always work and it is for that reason that women need access. Abortion is a method with a long history and one that at least limits the last resort--infanticide--which has an even longer history than abortion in world demographic trends. The more alternatives women and men have to either one of these the better off the world will be.

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