After years of decline, abortion rate stalls

Some discouraging news: After more than 20 years of a slow but steady decline in both the rate and number of abortions performed in the U.S., the Guttmacher Institute is reporting a slight increase in its latest survey.

The increase was just 1%, to 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women of child-bearing age in 2008, from 19.4 in 2005, the last year captured by the group’s previous survey.

The actual number of abortions performed also rose slightly in that period, to 1,212,350 from 1,206,200—the first increase since a steady march downward that began in 1990, the peak year for abortions in the U.S. since the survey began tracking them in 1973.

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Of course, the margin of difference is small, and it can’t be considered a trend one way or another until reports come out for 2009 and 2010, but it’s still worrisome. More:

In the Guttmacher survey, the relatively flat national abortion rate masked bigger shifts at the state level. Certain states saw sharp declines and others big increases in their abortion rates, including a 38% boost in Louisiana, to 16.1 per 1,000 reproductive-age women, and a drop of 13% in Wisconsin, to 7.4.

Archbishop Dolan of New York led a news conference just last week to lament his state’s staggering 40% abortion rate.

You can read the complete Guttmacher report here.


  • Margaret Cabaniss

    Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at

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