Why the steady decline? Some think the continued (and intensifying) fight over abortion in this country has created more and more stigma around the procedure, possibly leading fewer women to consider it as an option in the case of pregnancy. However, the study also cites decline in overall pregnancy rates over the same period. It makes sense, then, that researchers behind the report point to an increase in the use of effective long-term birth-control methods (think IUDs), especially among young women, as a major factor in the decline in abortions, as well as pregnancies per se. The recession could also have played a role: Economic uncertainty often precipitates a decline in pregnancy rates, which, in this case at least, seem to track pretty closely with abortion rates.
While the last few years have been generally pretty brutal for abortion rights in many states, the study's authors say these low abortion numbers are not due to decreased access to abortion services. In fact, some of the steepest declines in abortion procedures were observed in states where abortion is relatively accessible, including California and New York.
The report comes in the wake of recent data showing that the teen-pregnancy rate has plummeted over 50% since the 1990s. Whatever side of the debate you're on, these numbers are undoubtedly welcome news. (Politico / NYT)