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U.S. abortion rate at lowest level since '74

Abortion The abortion rate and actual number of abortions are down in the U.S. according to an article  published by Reuters on January 17, 2008 based on a study which will be published in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health in March of 2008.

The U.S. abortion rate continued its long-term decline in 2005, falling to its lowest level since 1974, according to the latest census of all known abortion providers in the U.S. conducted by the Guttmacher Institute in New York.

In 2005, the U.S. abortion rate fell to 19.4 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 years, continuing the downward trend that started after the U.S. abortion rate peaked in 1981 at 29.3 per 1,000 women.

The number of abortions also declined, to a total of 1.2 million in 2005. This is 8 percent fewer than in 2000 and 25 percent below the all-time high of 1.6 million abortions performed in 1990.

It appears that more abortions are now done with medication since the pill RU- 486 is available. Medication rather than surgical intervention can be done up to the 9th week of pregnancy.

A "key finding" from this survey is that "mifepristone matters," Jones said. "Mifepristone is having an impact on abortion services although we aren't sure at this point whether it is increasing access to abortions."

The latest census shows that 57 percent of all known abortion providers in the U.S. now offer early termination of pregnancy with RU-486, up from 33 percent in early 2001. Medication abortion accounted for 13 percent, or 161,000, of all abortions performed in 2005, and 22 percent of all abortions eligible for RU-486 - that is, those performed up to nine weeks' of pregnancy.

A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looking at abortion in 2004 found that there has been a "gradual but notable increase in very early abortions and we think in part that can be attributed to the availability of mifepristone," Jones noted.

"We knew that (mifepristone use) had increased and had become better integrated into abortion services; this survey just gave us an actual figure to work with," Jones said.

Mifepristone, she added, "provides women who are terminating their pregnancies with more options; in many cases they now have an option as to whether they want surgical abortion or medication abortion."

Link: MedlinePlus: U.S. abortion rate at lowest level since '74.

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