New research released this week brought an encouraging sign to pro-lifers when it confirmed that fewer teens are having abortions in the United States.
The data from the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute found that the proportion of teens having abortions, especially minors under age 18, dropped significantly between 2008 and 2014. The report coincides with recently released government statistics showing that teen pregnancy and birth rates also are dropping.
Overall, the proportion of abortions among teens dropped 32 percent in the six-year period, according to the report. The largest drop was among teens ages 15 to 17 with a 44 percent decline, while abortions among teens ages 18 and 19 dropped by 25 percent, Guttmacher reported.
As is consistent with past data, the study found that women in their 20s are the age group most likely to have abortions, representing 60 percent of all abortions. Women in their 30s were the second largest age group, having 25 percent of all abortions, according to the report.
The data is part of a larger picture of teens’ attitudes and responses to sex, pregnancy and abortion in the U.S.
Recent data from the National Center for Health Statistics showed the 2014 teen birth rate hitting the lowest point since the government began collecting data in the 1940s. In 2014, there were 25 teen births for every 1,000 female teens. Teen abortion rates are dropping steadily, too, the NCHS found. In 1990, there were 40.3 abortions for every 1,000 teen girls, but by 2009 the rate fell to just 16.3 abortions per 1,000, according to the data.
“Of the roughly 700,000 pregnancies among teens in 2009, about 58% are estimated to have ended in live births, 25% in abortions and 17% in miscarriages or stillbirths,” according to the report.
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The NCHS data does note, however, that more sexually active teens are using emergency contraception, such as the morning after pill, which some believe may cause an abortion. The rate of emergency contraception use rose from 8 percent in 2002 to 22 percent in 2011-2013, according to the report.
While the report notes that more sexually active teens are using contraception, it says fewer teens are having sex. In 1988, 51 percent of unmarried teen girls said they had sex, compared to 44 percent in 2011-2013, according to the National Survey of Family Growth.
The good news indicates that teens are responding to pro-life educational efforts, life-affirming resources, abstinence education and more. As technology advances, it is becoming harder for teens to escape images of unborn babies, ultrasound photos and videos showing babies interact in the womb, and resources that explain the truth about abortion. Pro-life laws, including informed consent and parental consent requirements, also have been effective in reducing teen abortion rates.
Abortions declining to historic lows in the United States since Roe v. Wade. At their high decades ago, approximately one in three pregnancies ended in an abortion — resulting in brochures, banners and billboards proclaiming that fact and greying out every third baby displayed in pictures of newborn children. Thanks to pro-life laws, educational efforts, pregnancy centers and the actions of pro-life groups that have resulted in closing down abortion clinics, now one in five pregnancies in the United States end in an abortion.