Teen Abortions Drop to Lowest Number Since Roe
By Randall K. O'Bannon, Ph.D.,
NRL-ETF Director of Education & Research
Statistics just released by the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) show teens reporting fewer abortions and a lower abortion rate than any time since abortion became legal nationwide in 1973.
According to AGI, women under 20 reported having 249,660 abortions in 1999, some 8,000 fewer than the year before. That was the lowest number since 1973, when there were 243,530 teen abortions.
The total number of abortions annually for teenagers was consistently above 300,000 from 1975 to 1993. The peak figure came in 1979 - - 460,820 abortions.
Population shifts might account for some of the decline, as the bubble of baby boomers aged. However, the abortion rate (measured by AGI as the number of abortions per 1,000 women) demonstrates that abortion is becoming a less common feature of these young women's lives.
For 1999, the abortion rate for women under 20 stood at 25.6 per thousand, again the lowest since 1973, when it was 23.9 per thousand. The abortion rate first climbed over 30 per thousand in 1975.
For the period 1978 through 1990, the figure climbed into the 40s per thousand, peaking at 45.4 in 1985. The number did not drop below 30 per thousand until 1996.
Pregnancy rates (an AGI estimate of the number of pregnancies per thousand women), also fell during the same period that abortion rates fell for teens. Thus some of that decrease was a matter of fewer teens becoming pregnant.
However, if we compare abortion, birth, and pregnancy rates from 1990, when pregnancy rates were highest, with like figures from 1999, when pregnancy rates were lowest, we see that a higher percentage of teens who had become pregnant were choosing life for their babies in 1999.
This is simply one more indication that the younger generation is more pro-life. There are many other examples.
For example, national polls of incoming freshmen conducted by UCLA found support for abortion dropping from an all-time high of 64.9% in 1990 to just 50.9%
in 1998. And a large poll conducted for the Buffalo News last November showed a marked surge in pro-life sentiment among younger people.
In a study just released by the Harvard University Institute of Politics, the opinions of college undergraduates almost exactly mirrored the opinion on abortion of the nation as a whole. That is, 73% said either that abortion should be legal only in some circumstances (53%) or illegal in all circumstances (20%).
These latest figures from AGI show these are more than just attitudinal changes. These are changes so deep they are having real-life consequences.
Fewer babies are being aborted. A higher percentage of pregnant teens are giving their unborn children the gift of life.
All this bodes well for the future.