A recent report by the National Center for Health Statistics shows that the number of live births per 1,000 women has dropped from 70.9 in 1990 to 68.1 in 2008. This decrease also includes a 40% decrease in teenage births, and though communities of color continue to experience teenage pregnancy at significantly higher rates, rates among black and Hispanic communities fell significantly. Furthermore, the report shows a shift in child bearing age, with substantially fewer women having children in their early twenties, instead waiting to have children, with a 38% increase in pregnancies among women 35-39, and a 65% increase for women 40-44.
These decreases in pregnancy are accompanied by a substantial decrease in abortion rates. In 1990, there were 27.4 abortions per 1,000 women; in 2008, 19.4. Though abortions were down among most demographics, most notably, there was a significant drop in abortions among teenagers.
The report’s lead author and demographer with the health statistics center, Stephanie J. Ventura, attributes these declining numbers largely to the increased and improved use of birth control: “It’s not that the birthrate is going up and abortion rate down, which has happened in the past. Now everything is changing in the same direction, suggesting that more effective birth control is at work here.” The findings of this study are complemented by previous work that also shows the powerful effect accessible contraception has on teen pregnancy rates. Research on declining pregnancy rates from 2007 published in the American Journal of Public Health found that while decreased sexual activity played a small role in decreasing pregnancy rates, three-quarters of declining rates in women 15-17 is due to increased birth control use and nearly all of the decline in women 18-19 is from increased use of contraception.
This most recent study, as well as past research, continues to show the benefits of affordable, accessible contraception. Planned Parenthood believes all people have the right to birth control and offers a wide variety of safe and effective contraceptive services.
Moira, Web Correspondent, Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Datoka