The Guttmacher Institute has released a fascinating new report looking at 30 years of data on abortion in America. Here are some of the key findings:

  • The abortion rate is currently at its lowest since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. Most of the change is due to declining abortion rates among women aged 20 to 24 since 1989. Experts disagree on the cause of this shift, with some pointing toward easier access to contraceptives, and others citing state laws that require parental notification for minors' abortions. Minors, however, account for only 7 percent of all abortions.

  • Since 1989, the only group whose abortion rate has increased is women over 40. It is likely that genetic screening for diseases such as Down Syndrome accounts for this increase. A large majority of expectant parents who receive a Down Syndrome diagnosis are now choosing to terminate the pregnancy.

  • Though all races have experienced a decline in abortion rates, there are still large disparities between the percentage of white, black, and Hispanic women accessing abortion. One percent of all white women had an abortion in 2004, compared to 3 percent of Hispanic women and 5 percent of black women. Much of the difference is attributable to socioeconomic status, with poor women less able to access birth control and other reproductive health care, and less aware of their contraceptive options. About 70 percent of all pregnancies among African-American women are unintended, compared with 48 percent of pregnancies across other racial groups.

  • The proportion of women accessing abortion who've already had an abortion is falling. In the words of Guttmacher, "There is no evidence that abortion is being used as a primary method of birth control."

  • Sixty percent of women who access abortion already have children.

For more, check out the National Partnership's analysis of the report's findings.

--Dana Goldstein

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