Abortion Rate on the Decline

February 13, 2014 Features

Attributed to economic distress, accessibility of contraceptives, and higher awareness of the dangers of unprotected sex, the abortion rate is the lowest since Roe v. Wade.

In and amongst all of the various topics of sociopolitical controversy in our country, there is one where the numbers have begun to read in favor of a more conservative stance.  You would think that with the millennial emphasis on human rights that the pro-choice argument surrounding women’s legality toward aborting a fetus would yield a higher amount of abortions.  Instead, according a recent article published in The Washington Post, the abortion rate has dropped to its lowest point since 1973.  In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the procedure.

The article goes on to speculate about what this systematic decline could have been caused by, citing such causes as better accessibility to contraceptives and a higher awareness of consequence in regards to unprotected sex.  One attributing factor that the article points out this study failed to suggest is an increase in regulatory laws pertaining to abortion by state.  It is possible that people are simply being restricted from the possibility of aborting fetuses.

“The study released Monday shows that, after a plateau from 2005 to 2008, the long-term decline in the abortion rate has resumed. The rate has dropped significantly from its all-time high in 1981, when there were roughly 30 abortions for every 1,000 women of reproductive age. The overall number of abortions also fell 13 percent from 2008 to nearly 1.1 million in 2011, the study said.” (Sandhya Somashekhar, The Washington Post).

So could it all just be random?  Or are we missing some obvious correlating factors to the abortion rate totals?  A significant suggestion made by the study was about times of economic distress.  People are more aware of the harm to come from an unwanted pregnancy when they cannot afford an additional dependent.  Thus, they are accordingly safer in their sexual practices.

As far as our rights go, being that we are Rollins College students living in Winter Park, laws in Florida have been exhibiting an expectedly conservative stance toward abortion rights over the past several years.  Most notably, in 2013 the state passed a law declaring that if an abortion were to result in a living child being removed from the womb then the medical professional in charge of the procedure would be obligated to give the child emergency care in order to preserve the life.  While it’s a nice thought (you know, saving a life) this law raises questions about how that breeches certain rights of the women having these procedures done.  The intention of an abortion is to terminate a pregnancy, not to pre-maturely induce birth.  With the chance of a surviving fetus as the result of undergoing the medical procedure, many women may opt not to run such a risk.

As a pro-choice endorsing, contemporary feminist, it might be obvious what my feelings are concerning women’s rights and abortion.  But the decline in numbers of aborted fetuses is a win for either side: life is inarguably valuable.  If we are creating a society that promotes preventative measures toward unwanted pregnancies before abortion has to become an option, then these low numbers mean positive change is underway.  But if they are truly the result of restrictions by our government, then it’s up to us to us as the current generation to stay informed while the dialogue remains open.

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