Here's Why The Unplanned Pregnancy Rate Is The Lowest It's Been In 30 Years

Photographed By Nicholas Bloise.
Some much-needed good news on the reproductive health front: According to new research by the Guttmacher Institute, published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine, the U.S. unintended pregnancy rate is on the decline. In fact, it's the lowest it's been in 30 years.

In 2008, there were 54 unintended pregnancies for every 1,000 women of reproductive age (15 to 44), while in 2011, there were 45. This comes after a slight increase was noted for the years between 2001 and 2008, the previous time period for which researchers looked at the data.

The decline occurred across demographics but not equally, with poor women and women of color still disproportionately affected by the burden of unintended pregnancy. Poor women had over five times the number of unintended pregnancies that higher-income women did between 2008 and 2011, while women of color were twice as likely to have an unintended pregnancy as white women.

The study's authors attributed the overall declining rate of unintended pregnancy to increased use of contraception, especially long-acting reversible contraception such as the IUD. But they were careful to be overly optimistic about the challenges that remain.

"After a long period of minimal change, the unintended pregnancy rate has declined to the lowest rate observed in the United States since we first began tracking these numbers in 1981, and by 18% in just three years," director of domestic research at the Guttmacher Institute Lawrence B. Finer said in a release emailed to Refinery29. "While this trend is certainly good news, it’s important to note that nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are still unintended. We have made progress in a short period of time, but we still have a long way to go to ensure that all women — regardless of socioeconomic status — are able to achieve their childbearing goals."
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