NEW YORK — The number and rate of abortions across the United States have plunged to their lowest levels since the procedure became legal nationwide in 1973, according to new figures released Wednesday.
The report from the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, counted 862,000 abortions in the United States in 2017. That’s down from 926,000 tallied in the group’s previous report for 2014, and from just over 1 million counted for 2011.
The new report illustrates that abortions are decreasing in all parts of the country — in Republican-controlled states seeking to restrict abortion access and in Democratic-run states protecting abortion rights. Between 2011 and 2017, abortion rates increased in only five states and the District of Columbia.
One reason for the decline in abortions is that fewer women are becoming pregnant. The Guttmacher Institute noted that the birth rate and the abortion rate declined during the years covered by the new report. A likely factor, the report said, is increased accessibility of contraception since 2011. The Affordable Care Act required most private health insurance plans to cover contraceptives without out-of-pocket costs.
The 2017 abortion rate was 13.5 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 — the lowest rate since the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. Following that ruling, the number of abortions rose steadily — peaking at 1.6 million in 1990 before starting a steady, still-continuing decline.