In late November, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released updated abortion data for the year 2015. Overall, the news was good. The number of abortions fell by 2 percent between 2014 and 2015 and there was a 24 percent decline since 2006. This reduction coupled with the recent confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court resulted in more coverage of this data than usual. This week, both Vox and The Economist ran articles analyzing the decline.
Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, both stories largely credit increases in contraception use for the reduction in the U.S. abortion rate. However, this is, at best, an incomplete explanation. To their credit, both articles do mention possible factors. Both articles acknowledge that increases in the number of state-level pro-life laws might be playing a role. Sarah Kliff, writing for Vox, cites a blogpost I wrote for National Review about increases in pro-life sentiment among millennials.
However, neither article cites a very important factor behind the 50 percent decline in the U.S. abortion rate since 1980. Namely, that a higher percentage of unintended pregnancies are being carried to term. According to data from the Guttmacher Institute, in 1981, 54 percent of unintended pregnancies resulted in an abortion. That number fell to 42 percent by 2008.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael J. New