Abortion Rates Drop in Both Red and Blue States
Life + Money

Abortion Rates Drop in Both Red and Blue States

© Mike Stone / Reuters

The abortion rate in almost all states, both liberal and conservative, has fallen since 2010, a new survey released by the Associated Press found. Abortions have declined in states where new laws make it more difficult to have them, but are also down in states that protect abortion rights.

Since 2010, there has been a decrease in abortions of about 12 percent nationwide.

A few of the states that have been the most successful in passing antiabortion laws – including Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, and Oklahoma – have had abortion numbers fall by over 15 percent since 2010. However, states with unrestricted access to abortions, such as New York, Washington, and Oregon, have also experienced drops of that magnitude.

Related: GOP Women to Boehner—When It Comes to Abortion, Don’t Mess with Us

Activists on both sides of the issue, pro-choice and anti-abortion, are attempting to take credit for the decline.

Anti-abortion advocates claim the results are due to constraints placed on abortions passed in Republican-controlled states across the South and Midwest since 2010. Dozens of clinics have been shuttered, and newly implemented restrictions, including mandatory pre-abortion counseling and waiting periods have been put into effect.  

On the other hand, abortion-rights advocates point to cheap and widely available contraception as the reason, partly because the Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover most types of birth control with no copay.

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The data indicate that better contraceptive measures are largely responsible. Five of the six states with the largest declines – Hawaii (30 percent), New Mexico (24 percent), Nevada (22 percent), Rhode Island (22.2. percent), and Connecticut (20.9 percent) – haven’t recently passed any laws to restrict abortion. In addition, rates also dropped in states where access to abortion is virtually unobstructed, including Nevada (22.1 percent) and New Mexico (23.9 percent).

Michigan and Louisiana were the only states with significant increases in abortions since 2010. Abortions grew 12 percent in Louisiana and in Michigan by 18.5 percent. These increases are partly due to women coming from states where restrictions and clinic closures have dramatically limited abortion access.

Related: Planned Parenthood sues to block Arizona abortion law

Two additional trends affecting the abortion rate: First, a Gallup poll finds that living together among 18-29 year-old couples has flatlined and marriage among millennials has declined. Second, teenage pregnancies in the U.S. have hit record lows. The rate fell 10 percent between 2012 and 2013, according to information provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The birth rate has also been falling for women of all ages. According to CDC data, the rate fell by 2 percent between 2010 and 2013, and by 9 percent between 2007 and 2013. A potential explanation for the declining birth rate is lingering concerns from the 2008 Great Recession. More men and women might be reconsidering whether having a child at a time of economic uncertainty is a good idea.  

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