A new study from the Guttmacher Institute shows that the nation’s abortion rate in 2008-11 fell to its lowest level since the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing the procedure across the country. What’s behind the decline? From Guttmacher’s press release:
“With abortion rates falling in almost all states, our study did not find evidence that the national decline in abortions during this period was the result of new state abortion restrictions. We also found no evidence that the decline was linked to a drop in the number of abortion providers during this period,” says Rachel Jones, lead author of the study. “Rather, the decline in abortions coincided with a steep national drop in overall pregnancy and birth rates. Contraceptive use improved during this period, as more women and couples were using highly effective long-acting reversible contraceptive methods, such as the IUD. Moreover, the recent recession led many women and couples to want to avoid or delay pregnancy and childbearing.”
The Guttmacher press release notes a surge in state laws restricting women’s access to abortion care services beginning in 2011. But this study appears to show that if right-wing politicians and pressure groups really want to lower the number of abortions, they should ensure that women have access to affordable family planning services. That’s just common sense.
Yet Texas lawmakers have openly promoted a war on birth control, enacting budget cuts and other measures that limit women’s access to those services. They have also refused to pass — or even seriously consider — policies that ensure young people get age-appropriate sex education that includes medically accurate information on condoms and other forms of birth control as well as abstinence.
Polling conducted last year for the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund shows Texans strongly support both comprehensive sex education and ensuring women’s access to birth control and family planning services. But too many politicians simply aren’t listening.