Women Are Having Fewer Abortions: Here's Why

Roe vs. Wade headline.
The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice think thank, but one that is also considered to have most reliable numbers and statistics when it comes to abortion data, has released a study showing that abortion rates are as low as they've ever been since Roe v. Wade (1973). Only 17 of every 1,000 women are having an abortion now (2011 is the latest year that the study has numbers for). This alone is a 13 percent decline since 2008.

Everyone is happy about this. The National Right to Life is "extremely happy" about this development. Pro-choice folks are also optimistic. And that's where things diverge.

The pro-life crowd attributes the decline to the spate of recent restrictive abortion laws that have been passed since the 2010 mid-terms which swept in a number of socially conservative legislators in states like North Carolina and in states, like Texas, which simply grew more conservative. More than that, the pro-lifers claim, their success in turning "partial-birth abortion" into a successful political issue -- i.e., people began to see that abortion was no different, according the pro-life lobby, than infanticide -- as another marker of their success and the subsequent decline of abortion rates.

The pro-lifers are only half-right. Abortion rates have been on a steady decline since 1980, so recent restrictive laws can't be the reason for the recent 13 percent decline. The study by the Guttmacher Institute does not attempt to divine the exact reason why abortion rates are so low, but it does note that the increased use of more reliable forms of birth control, such as IUDs, which have a lower user "error rate" than pills or condoms might have contributed to such.

However, as some commentators have done, we can't assume that the pro-life's groups' talking points are simply "inane." Of course, the NRLC is going to trumpet their recent legislative successes, but we can be fairly sure that, except for a few states, this has not contributed to the decline.

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The issue has been exploited for fundraising for years.  That's the real problem here.

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