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A study done by the Guttmacher Institute has found that U.S. abortion rates have dropped to their lowest in 40 years.
The study found that in 2011, the rate of abortions had dropped to 16.9 per 1,000 women, ages 15 to 44. That number is the lowest abortion rate since the operation was legalized in 1973. The drop between 2008 and 2011 is 13 percent.
Lead author Rachel Jones said, "The decline in abortions coincided with a steep national drop in overall pregnancy and birth rates." She added, "Contraceptive use improved during this period. ... Moreover, the recent recession led many women and couples to avoid or delay pregnancy and childbearing."
Increased access to birth control also could have helped explain the dipping numbers as methods become more effective, such as intrauterine devices, on top of the old standbys of pills or the vaginal ring.
According to NBC News, abortions done through early medication procedures did rise though and have continued to do so, despite the overall rate dipping and only 59 percent of abortion clinics offering the service. The increase is 17 percent between 2008 and 2011, with about 239,400 operations performed.
CNN notes that the data isn't perfect because the Guttmacher Institute acknowledges it was unable to get in contact with ever single abortion provider.
image: Wikimedia Commons