Today the Guttmacher Institute reported that abortion rates, after decades of decline, are holding steady. Guttmacher found that there were 19.4 abortions per 1,000 women for women in 2005. That number is nearly on par with the 2008 rate of 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women.
Overall the abortion rate has been on a steady decline since 1981, when the rate was 29.3 abortions per 1,000 women. That has all been due to greater access to health insurance, birth control, better information about unplanned pregnancies, and more options for contraception.
But typically in tough economic times, experts that follow abortion rates usually see an increase in abortion. Women typically have less access to regular health care -- and therefore less access to contraception -- and that means that women are more likely to have an unintended pregnancy. It seems the stagnation in the drop in teen pregnancies is also part of this trend. In tough economic times, a woman who already faces a tight financial situation might decide to end the pregnancy rather than putting her family through greater hardship. And this is often the case for women who choose abortion; the typical woman who has an abortion is a woman who already has other children.
Ideally no woman would face an unwanted pregnancy. But for obvious reasons, that's unrealistic. The pro- and anti-choice movements are both expressing concern about a stagnation in the of the abortion rate -- and even worry that that poor economic conditions could even cause a the number of abortions to tick upward. If anything, this should be yet another reason to make contraception part of preventative care under the new health care law.