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The number of abortions in the US continues to drop. Why? Well, there are a number of factors, but the biggest factor is more effective and more easily available than it's ever been. Also, people know about it!

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Abortion is at an all-time low. Why? Birth control! This is Healthcare Triage News.


In 2005, while George W. Bush was president, there were more than 230 abortions for every 1,000 live births. In 2015, on the other hand, when Barack Obama was president, there were fewer than 190 abortions for every 1,000 live births. Why? One obvious reason is that family planning has improved quite a bit.

As we've discussed in previous episodes on Healthcare Triage, the teen pregnancy rate is also at an all-time low. Part of this may be because teens aren't having as much sex as they use to, but most of this is better contraception.

Just between 2008 and 2011, the percent of pregnancies that were unplanned dropped from 51% to 45%. We've also covered previous work that shows that birth control is a major driver in this trend. 

What's interesting is that this drop in the abortion rate is international. When you look at Europe, the number of abortions since 1990 dropped from more than 50 per 1,000 live births to about 30 in 2014. The same types of decreases have been seen throughout developed countries in general, as well as in all of North America.

Of course, there's another side to this. It's also possible that another factor in the decreasing number of abortions has to do with wonem's decreasing access to the service. Almost 40% of women of reproductive age live in counties where no abortion services are available.

We'd be remiss if we didn't talk to about how this might change in the future, though. Many are worries that changes to regulations could limit women's access to birth control. New rules being written by HHS could allow employers to opt-out of offering birth control in their benefits package. Although, such changes have been fought a number of times in the past, it's clear the the Trump administration would like to go there.

Most of these data goes through 2015, which is interesting, because the ACA really kicked into gear in 2014. Part of what changed that year was the coverage for birth control services got a lot better, even without co-pays. It's entirely possible that the data since then might look even better. More birth control could mean even fewer abortions in the last few years than what we're discussing here.

Of course, all of that could change with alterations in health insurance coverage. It could also change is abortion services become even more difficult to access in the next few years. We'll be sure to update you as more information becomes available.


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