Feb. 7, 2014

Why the Abortion Rate Decline?

The abortion rate is at its lowest since Roe v Wade.

Despite the present make-up of our federal government, new research shows that Americans are becoming more conservative in at least one respect: abortion. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the abortion rate in 2011 was the lowest since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. Guttmacher, the think tank of Planned Parenthood, undoubtedly slants to the left; however, those on both sides of the abortion debate generally consider its research respectable.

While the numbers indicating a decline are not being debated, the reasons for it are. As usual, there are many theories, and few solid answers. Pro-abortion organizations credit the broader and more diligent use of birth control – including IUD and Plan B – but it’s not that simple. Many conservatives believe that the decline is due in part to what Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto dubs the “Roe Effect”: essentially, a political sea change arising from the demographic shifts created by the 56 million abortions performed since Roe.

It seems that technology has a lot to do with the decline as well. Thanks to 3-D sonograms and other advancements, we can prove so much more about the stages of pregnancies, particularly the early stages, before the baby is considered legally “viable.” Modern technology’s remarkably detailed in utero view of the unborn child has gone a long way toward dissuading women from terminating their pregnancies.

Another factor is pro-life legislation enacted in several states. Pro-abortion organizations, including Guttmacher, claim these laws are ineffective, though the Institute did acknowledge the effectiveness of one piece of legislation. The Hyde Amendment, which banned federal funding for most abortions, is credited with preventing 18% to 35% of such procedures.

Whatever the reasons for the declining rate, we have much work to do, as abortion still snuffs out more than one million innocent lives each year.

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