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Research Essay: The Cause of Lower Abortion Rates
Abortion in the United States
Nearly fifty years after the Supreme Court ruled that abortion is a choice covered by the fourteenth amendment, the debate concerning abortion continues to fluctuate. In 1973, in the case Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decided that a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body is an inherent right that is protected by the right to privacy. This was considered a triumphant moment by pro-choice groups and supporters.
In the time between the ruling and the present, various groups and organizations have made efforts to make abortion and birth control accessible to women of all backgrounds throughout the United States. At present though, abortion is legalized in all 50 states but severely restricted in 18. Although 43 states have gestational limits, 18 states still require state-mandated counseling before an abortion, 25 states require a woman to wait usually 24 hours between counseling and the procedure, and 37 states require some type of parental involvement in abortion for minors.
For as long as there have been clinics performing abortion, pro-life groups have been staking out outside them to prevent women from getting inside and getting an abortion. These groups have often resorted to verbal and physical harassment, with some even bombing or shooting these clinics. In fact, in 2017, threats alone increased to 62, from 33 in the previous year. But the violence against abortion clinics, their employees, and patients does not end in the picket lines. At least 11 people have been killed in attacks on abortion clinics since 1993. The victims range from doctors to volunteers and receptionists.
After the ruling of Roe v. Wade in 1973, the number of abortions per year went as high as 1.6 million in 1990. Nevertheless, the abortion rate in the US is recorded at 13.5% in 2017, accounting for a total of 862,000 abortions. The number is at its lowest since 1973. Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to tracking abortions in the US recorded a significant decline in the number of abortions in the United States. The study they conducted showed that only 13.5 out of 1000 women ages 15-44 had an abortion in 2017.
However, findings from studies show that individuals have learned to decide freely and responsibly the number of children they will have or to space their pregnancies. Not only did the abortion rate decline, but also the number of unintended pregnancies. This is possible because of the comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services made available to individuals and access to affordable yet high-quality contraception.
Why did the abortion rate drop in the past years?
Much to pro-lifers’ disappointment, their increase in protest and hostility and the proliferation of laws restricting abortion has got nothing to do with the abortion rate’s decline. A study conducted by the Guttmacher Institute suggests that the decline is much more likely to be linked to the effective use of contraception like intrauterine devices (IUDs) or implants since birth rates have also declined.
This is a good sign, according to Guttmacher Institute’s principal research scientist Rachel Jones. The decline in abortion rates is caused by women making informed decisions about their sexual activity and in their lives. The Guttmacher Institute also reported a continuous increase in usage of long-acting contraceptives (LARCs) from 2007 onwards, which as reported earlier, coincides with lower unwanted and teen pregnancy. This means that women are not getting abortions because they are able to prevent unintended pregnancies in the first place.
The number of abortion clinics in South and Midwest United States decreased by 88 while Northeast America added 59 clinics. Currently, there are 23 abortion restrictions enacted in 2020 alone (Guttmacher Institute). A study showed that more than half of the number in the decline happened in 18 states where no new abortion restrictions were enacted. And if abortion restrictions are the main cause of the decline, the birth rate is also expected to increase, which it did not. This further solidifies the fact that abortion laws have got nothing to do with the decline in abortion rates in the past few years.
Contributing to that is the inclination of women towards medical abortion, a non-surgical abortion procedure . 39% of women opted for relying on medical abortions than proceeding with surgical abortions in 2017. While unsafe and not recommended, some women even dared buy abortion medications on their own. Guttmacher Institute believes that the number of women trying self-managed abortion does not contribute much to the decline in the abortion rate.
Women’s autonomy over their bodies reigns the factors in this decline of abortion rates and unintended pregnancies. With the help of public funding or insurance plans, it is now possible for women, and other individuals, to access the contraceptive of their choosing. This should serve as a reminder to continue to advocate for accessible, affordable, and supportive healthcare not just in the United States, but for everyone worldwide.
Regardless of one’s beliefs and opinion regarding the morality of abortion, this is progress that we can all get behind. The picture is not all positive, considering the high violence and threats to abortion clinics from antiabortion or pro-life groups, but based on data and various reports, there is more evidence that the low abortion rate in the US is the result of positive action from the pro-choice movement.
There is a strong correlation between the increased use of contraceptives, which has led to lower unintended and teen pregnancies, overall birth rate, and lower rates of abortion. As long as all women have access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, contraceptives, as well as abortion, they should be supported to make the decision for themselves.
As this essay sample shows, the decline in the abortion rate owes a lot to those who fought for the freedom of women in choosing what’s best for their bodies. You, as a student, may have an advocacy or something you want to fight for in mind but do not know how to put it into words. If the time ever comes that a teacher asks you to write about what you firmly believe in, do not hesitate to send us a message. We at CustomEssayMeister are dedicated to helping you with your writing needs. From admission essays to capstones, we are sure that we will be able to assist you.
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Nash, E., & Dreweke, J. (2019, September 18). The U.S. Abortion Rate Continues to Drop: Once Again, State Abortion . Guttmacher Institute. https://www.guttmacher.org/gpr/2019/09/us-abortion-rate-continues-drop-once-again-state-abortion-restrictions-are-not-main
Belluck, P. (2019, September 20). America’s Abortion Rate Has Dropped to Its Lowest Ever. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/18/health/abortion-rate-dropped.html
Stanglin, D. U. T. (2019, September 19). US abortion rate is at its lowest, but restrictive laws aren’t the likely cause, study says . USA TODAY. https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/09/18/number-of-abortions-us-drops-guttmacher-institute-study/2362316001/