Minnesota abortions dropped 13 percent from 2011 to 2014

And the rate of abortions dropped 14 percent, nationally.

by Olivia Johnson

Abortion rates in the U.S. fell to the lowest level since the 1970s.

A new study released by the Guttmacher Institute, a sexual and reproductive health think tank, shows drops in the number of abortions across the nation.

Abortions dropped 14 percent nationally to 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44. In Minnesota, the drop was 13 percent between 2011 and 2014.

Increased contraceptive use and tighter restrictions on abortion explains the decline in abortions, said Rachel Jones, author of the study.

In 2014, 95 percent of Minnesota counties had no clinics that provided abortions, and 59 percent of women lived in those counties. Ninety percent of counties in the U.S. had no clinics that provide abortions.

In 2014, over 9,700 abortions were performed in Minnesota.

Jones and her team contacted all known abortion providers in the country and asked how many abortions they performed, she said, adding that the study’s data took 14 months to collect.

She said abortions have declined since 1990. In Minnesota, abortions have decreased every year since 2006.

“During this three year time period, it was a sharper decline than what we had seen,” she said, adding that ideally, research would be used to inform lawmakers on public policy.

Jones said the Guttmacher Institute used to release this type of study every year, but the data collection process has become more labor-intensive.

“These providers don’t have to give us this information,” she said. “Sometimes it involves calling them … 30 times and getting a hold of the right person and providing them with assurances that we’re a trustworthy source.”

Bill Poehler, communications director for Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, said the decline is because of anti-abortion legislation, calling the decrease “wonderful.”

He said the data isn’t completely accurate because some states don’t require providers to report their numbers.

At an MCCL rally outside the Minnesota Capitol Sunday afternoon, organizers and Republican leaders of the state’s GOP-controlled Legislature pledged to push for policies to reduce the number of abortions even more.

Wendy Hellerstedt, associate professor of reproductive health in the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, said the study only reports numbers from providers, leaving out medical or self-induced abortions.

“Abortion is probably the only medical procedure that there is so much stigma around reporting,” she said. “I do believe that the declines in abortion are not necessarily a reflection of a decline in need. They reflect national and state policies.”

Hellerstedt said that declines can mean limited access to abortion providers, and worries that this will result in more self-induced abortion attempts or illicit procedures.

In Minnesota specifically, she said the declines could point to active family planning services and access to contraceptives.

“I think you’re seeing … positive things,” she said.