Data released last month by the Guttmacher Institute shows that the abortion rate dropped under President Obama. This is the first time in more than two decades that the abortion rate has decreased among every demographic group. The data also shows that abortion is a common experience for women, with about 1 in 4 women having at least one abortion before the age of 45.
Abortion Rate Declines Under President Obama
The Guttmacher Institute performed the analysis, which was published last month in the American Journal of Public Health. Drawing upon data from the Abortion Patient Survey, the National Survey of Family Growth, and the American Community Survey, the team estimated changes in the abortion rate between 2008-2014.
The overall abortion rate declined 25% during the study years, from 19.4 abortions per 1,000 women to 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women. It also declined among each demographic group, with the largest decline occurring among teenagers 15-19. That group saw a 46% drop in their abortion rate. Women ages 20-29 account for two-thirds of all abortions.
Economic Stress a Factor in Abortion
Women living under the poverty line saw a decline of 26% in their abortion rate. Yet this group continued to have the highest abortion rate of all groups, with 36.6 abortions occurring for every 1,000 women. Black women had more abortions than other racial/ethnic groups, suggesting that racial disparities may also factor into abortion decisions.
Why Did the Abortion Rate Drop?
The study did not directly evaluate what’s behind the decline in abortion. However, other data from the study provides significant clues. Previous research has found a connection between poverty, racism, and abortion. The fact that black women and poor women continue to have more abortions than other groups confirms this connection. Under President Obama, birth control became free thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The administration also expanded access to some safety net programs designed to reduce poverty. This might account for the reduction in abortion.
Will Abortions Surge Again Under President Trump?
Republicans have long opposed policies known to reduce the abortion rate, such as free birth control and access to family planning clinics. Now, the proposed Republican tax plan is taking aim at the adoption tax credit. Amid a maternal health crisis and a cultural climate that is increasingly hostile to disenfranchised women and children, it seems likely that the end to this tax credit could spur more women to choose abortion. It’s just another nail in the coffin of the notion that Republican opposition to abortion has anything to do with respect for life.