CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

Health

November 21, 2012

US abortions fall 5 pct, biggest drop in a decade

NEW YORK — U.S. abortions fell 5 percent during the Great Recession in the biggest one-year decrease in at least a decade, according to government figures released Wednesday.

The reason for the decline wasn't clear, but some experts said it may be due to better use of birth control during tough economic times. Their theory is that some women believe they can't afford to get pregnant.

"They stick to straight and narrow ... and they are more careful about birth control," said Elizabeth Ananat, a Duke University assistant professor of public policy and economics who has researched abortions.

While many states have aggressively restricted access to abortion, most of those laws were adopted in the past two years and are not believed to have played a role in the decline.

Abortions have been dropping slightly over much of the past decade. But before this latest report, they seemed to have leveled off.

The new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that both the number and rate of abortions fell 5 percent in 2009, the most recent statistics available from most states.

Nearly all states report abortion numbers to the federal government, but it's voluntary. A few states — including California, which has the largest population and largest number of abortion providers — don't send in data. Experts believe there are more than 1 million abortions performed nationwide each year, but because of the incomplete reporting, the CDC had reports of about 785,000 in 2009.

For the sake of consistency, the CDC focused on the numbers from 43 states and two cities — those that have been sending in data without interruption for at least 10 years. The researchers found that abortions per 1,000 women of child-bearing age fell from about 16 in 2008 to roughly 15 in 2009. That translates to nearly 38,000 fewer abortions in one year.

Mississippi had the lowest abortion rate, at 4 per 1,000 women of child-bearing age. The state also had only a couple of abortion providers, and has the nation's highest teen birth rate. New York was highest, with abortion rates roughly eight times higher than Mississippi's. New York is second only to California in number of abortion providers.

Nationally since 2000, the number of reported abortions has dropped overall by about 6 percent and the abortion rate has fallen 7 percent, but the figures essentially leveled off for a few of those years.

By all accounts, contraception is playing a role in lowering the numbers.

Some cite a government study released earlier this year suggesting that about 60 percent of teenage girls who have sex use the most effective kinds of contraception, including the pill and patch. That's up from the mid-1990s, when fewer than half were using the best kinds.

Experts also pointed to the growing use of IUDs. The IUD, or intrauterine device, is a T-shaped plastic sperm-killer that a doctor inserts into a woman's uterus. A Guttmacher Institute study earlier this year showed that IUD use among sexually active women on birth control rose from under 3 percent in 2002 to more than 8 percent in 2009.

IUDs essentially prevent "user error," said Rachel Jones, a Guttmacher researcher.

Ananat said another factor for the abortion decline may be the growing use of the morning-after pill, a form of emergency contraception that has been increasingly easier to get. It came onto the market in 1999 and in 2006 was approved for non-prescription sale to women 18 and older. In 2009 the age was lowered to 17.

Underlying all this may be the economy, which was in recession from December 2007 until June 2009. But well afterward, polls have shown most Americans remained worried about anemic hiring, a depressed housing market and other problems.

You might think a bad economy would lead to more abortions by women who are struggling. However, John Santelli, a Columbia University professor of population and family health, said: "The economy seems to be having a fundamental effect on pregnancies, not abortions."

More findings from the CDC report:

—The majority of abortions are performed by the eighth week of pregnancy, when the fetus is about the size of a lima bean.

—White women had the lowest abortion rate, at about 8.5 abortions per 1,000 women of child-bearing age; the rate for black women was about four times that. The rate for Hispanic women was about 19 per 1,000.

—About 85 percent of those who got abortions were unmarried.

—The CDC identified 12 abortion-related deaths in 2009.

 

1
Text Only
Health
  • COMMENTARY: An alternative diagnosis to ADHD: Schoolchildren need more time to move

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us that in recent years, there has been a jump in the percentage of young people diagnosed with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, commonly known as ADHD: 7.8 percent in 2003 to 9.5 percent in 2007 to 11 percent in 2011.

    July 18, 2014

  • Guideline: Most healthy women can skip pelvic exam

    No more dreaded pelvic exam? New guidelines say most healthy women can skip the yearly ritual.

    July 1, 2014

  • Sanofi targets fake Viagra market with non-prescription Cialis

    Sanofi sees an attractive opportunity in the rampant market for counterfeit Viagra: luring men away from dodgy online pharmacies with an over-the-counter version of a competing erection drug.

    June 5, 2014

  • Hospital charges to treat chest pain jump 10 percent in a year

    The charge to treat Medicare patients with chest pain at U.S. hospitals rose 10 percent to $18,568 in just a year, the biggest rise seen among the most common inpatient procedures, according to federal data.

    June 2, 2014

  • Study: Both men and women feel less stress at work than at home

    In a newly released study in the Journal of Science and Medicine, researchers carefully examined the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, of a variety of workers throughout the day. The data clearly showed that both men and women are significantly less stressed out at work than they are at home.
     And the women they studied said they were happier at work. While the men said they felt happier at home.

    May 26, 2014

  • Jobless contend with weight gain as they search for work

    A subject long ignored by policymakers, and one that unemployment counselors are too sheepish to raise with job seekers, the link between bulging waistlines and joblessness is now of intense interest to researchers studying the long-term effects of the country's economic malaise.

    May 12, 2014

  • COMMENTARY: Helmets won't protect your kids from concussions

    When I was a kid, helmets were for motorcyclists. Now I see children wearing helmets when they're scooting down sidewalks, skating, skiing, sledding and playing soccer. Last week one of my friends saw a helmeted kid power-walking in Prospect Park. You can even buy $40 baby helmets on Amazon, because, according to the product description, "babies will always fall taking their first steps."

    May 2, 2014

  • 400px-Cannabis_Plant.jpg How bad is marijuana for your health?

    The Journal of Neuroscience recently published a study linking recreational marijuana use to subtle changes in brain structure. The researchers, led by Jodi Gilman of Massachusetts General Hospital, identified increased gray matter density in the left nucleus accumbens and some bordering areas.

    May 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • American sunscreens need an upgrade

    The last time a new sunscreen ingredient came on the U.S. market, the Y2K bug was threatening to destroy our way of life. Intel had just introduced the Pentium III processor, featuring an amazing 500 MHz of computing power.

    April 24, 2014

  • Cuba is running out of condoms

    The newest item on Cuba's list of dwindling commodities is condoms, which are now reportedly in short supply. In response, the Cuban government has approved the sale of expired condoms.

    April 23, 2014