The abortion rate in Utah has fallen to the lowest level ever recorded since 1977 when the state started collecting figures pertaining to the same, touching 4.6 abortions per 1,000 women in 2013. The total number of women who opted for abortions during this period has also fallen to the lowest total since 1977. Only 2,893 women opted for medical termination of pregnancy, though the population of women in their childbearing years has doubled over the time.
Different reasons are being offered for this fall in abortion rate as well as the number of abortions in the state. The Guttmacher Institute which keeps a record of nationwide figures had also noticed the overall rate in the U.S. touch a record low of 16.9 in 2011, the lowest ever since 1977.
Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, believes one of the reasons for this fall is the restrictive abortion laws including one in Utah requiring a 72-hour abortion waiting period.
“The legislative efforts of the right-to-life movement, and significantly, the resulting national debate and educational campaigns surrounding pro-life legislation should not be minimized when discussing the decline in abortion numbers,” she told The Salt Lake Tribune.
Karrie Galloway, director of Planned Parenthood of Utah, however seems to disagree and cites the increased use of contraception by women and greater family planning as major factors for the decrease.
“I don’t think they can draw those conclusions any better than I can say (there are fewer abortions because) people have been able to access family planning and have good methods to prevent unintended pregnancy. We are guessing people’s hearts and minds,” she said.
Laurie Baksh from the state health department’s Maternal and Infant Health Program said she has no way of knowing whether any existing or new laws have had any effect on the abortion rate and the magnitude of that effect.
She thinks the most recent recession caused many women to think about the economic realities of raising a child. “They are probably working a little bit harder not to become pregnant because now is not the time,” Baksh told The Tribune.
The abortion rate in Utah has always been well below the overall U.S. rate.