WASHINGTON (CNS) — Almost two weeks after the national March for Life rally in Washington, the Guttmacher Institute reported a 13 percent drop in national abortion rates from 2008 to 2011 — making for the lowest rate since 1973 when abortion on demand was legalized in the U.S.
However, “no evidence was found” of a correlation between the declining rate and new abortion restrictions set between 2008 and 2011, said the study released Feb. 3.
Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, stated that the study “shows the long-term efforts of the right-to-life movement,” even though Guttmacher gave no credit to groups against abortion.
Legislative efforts and pro-life campaigns “should not be minimized when discussing the decline in abortion numbers,” Tobias said in an NRLC news article.
The study reported 16.9 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44 in 2011, totaling almost 1.1 million abortions that year. The peak was in 1981 with nearly 30 abortions per 1,000 women, according to The Associated Press.
Guttmacher wrote that “more effective contraceptive methods” may have contributed to the decline in unintended pregnancies, thus causing a decline in abortions.
“Contraceptive use improved during this period, as more women and couples were using highly effective long-acting reversible contraceptive methods,” Rachel Jones, an author of the study, told the AP.
Jones said the recent recession may have also contributed to the decline in pregnancy rates, as more women wanted to “avoid or delay pregnancy and child bearing” in tough economic times.
The student also showed a 4 percent drop in the number of abortion providers, but that had no effect on the decline in abortion rate, Jones said.
Jeanne Monahan, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, said the authors of the study “conceded the fact that there was no data” to confirm a direct link between legislation and abortion decline, implying there was no way to trace such evidence.
“They have decent data that’s not 100 percent accurate, and they say that in the (study),” Monahan told Catholic News Service.
Despite this, March for Life and other organizations need data from the Guttmacher Institute to track measurement, she said, because there are no official government reports that have the same data.
Though pro-life organizations see positive signs in Guttmacher’s study, Monahan said there’s more to do.
“Obviously, we’re delighted,” she said of the decline. “It’s great news for women and (the) babies … but the statistic ‘1.1 million’ is still so sad.”
Though the annual March for Life rally on the National Mall has come and gone — it was Jan. 22 — Monahan encouraged pro-life supporters on the March for Life organization’s blog to “make an impact all year-round in our communities, be it through starting a group, writing an op-ed, joining a school board or health board, or praying in front of an abortion clinic.”
Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, issued a statement Feb. 4 in response to the study and NRLC’s article.
“A decline in abortion, for whatever reason, leads us closer to our goal of protecting children in the womb by law,” he said. “The fewer abortions there are, the more legislators will consider it realistic to change public policy on the matter, and the more judges will consider it prudent to uphold such changes.”
— By Navar Watson, Catholic News Service.