Decline in Abortion Rates Correspond with Increased Access to Contraception, Yet Bush Administration Pushes Abstinence-Only

A new report by the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization indicates that between 1995 and 2003 the rate of abortions worldwide declined. The most dramatic decline occurred in Eastern Europe and corresponds with substantially increased contraceptive use in the region. Of course, the Bush Administration continues to push abstinence-only-until-marriage programs both domestically and abroad, and will not permit U.S. family planning assistance to fund foreign NGOs that use funding from other sources to counsel, refer, or perform abortions.An article in The New York Times notes:

The wealth of information that comes out of the study provides some striking lessons, the researchers said. In Uganda, where abortion is illegal and sex education programs focus only on abstinence, the estimated abortion rate was 54 per 1,000 women in 2003, more than twice the rate in the United States, 21 per 1,000 in that year. The lowest rate, 12 per 1,000, was in Western Europe, with legal abortion and widely available contraception.

Some additional facts from the report:-- The decline in abortion incidence was greater in developed countries, where nearly all abortions are safe and legal (from 39 to 26 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44), than in developing countries, where more than half are unsafe and illegal (from 34 to 29).-- The most dramatic decline in abortion incidence occurred in Eastern Europe, a region where abortion is, for the most part, legal and safe: the rate fell from 90 to 44. The decrease coincided with substantial increases in contraceptive use in the region.-- The lowest abortion rate in the world is in Western Europe (12 per 1,000 women aged 15–44). The rate is 17 in Northern Europe and 21 in Northern America (Canada and the United States of America).-- More than one-third of the approximately 205 million pregnancies that occur worldwide annually are unintended, and about 20% of all pregnancies end in induced abortion.

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