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Long-Term Decline in Abortion Incidence Stalls

Last Updated: January 24, 2011.

The long-term decline in abortion incidence appears to have leveled off, and antiabortion harassment among providers is high in some regions, according to a study published online Jan. 10 in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

MONDAY, Jan. 24 (HealthDay News) -- The long-term decline in abortion incidence appears to have leveled off, and antiabortion harassment among providers is high in some regions, according to a study published online Jan. 10 in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

Rachel K. Jones, Ph.D., of the Guttmacher Institute in New York City, and Kathryn Kooistra, of the State University of New York Downstate in Brooklyn, contacted all facilities known or expected to have provided abortion services in 2007 and 2008, including hospitals, clinics, and physicians' offices, and collected data on the number of abortions performed, combining it with population data to estimate national and state-level abortion rates.

Between 2005 and 2008, the investigators found that the abortion rate increased from 19.4 to 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, though there had been a steady decline since 1981. However, the total number of abortion providers remained nearly the same. It appears that small changes in national abortion incidence and number of providers masked substantial changes in some states. In both 2005 and 2008, the investigators found that 35 percent of women of reproductive age lived in the 87 percent of counties that lacked a provider. Among nonhospital providers, 57 percent experienced antiabortion harassment in 2008, with levels high in the Midwest (85 percent) and the South (75 percent).

"The long-term decline in abortion incidence has stalled. Higher levels of harassment in some regions suggest the need to enact and enforce laws that prohibit the more intrusive forms of harassment," the authors write.

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