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Abortion rates decline locally and nationally 44 years after Roe v. Wade decision

WSBT 22's Caroline Torie speaks with Jeanette Burdell at St. Joseph County Right to Life // WSBT 22 Photo
WSBT 22's Caroline Torie speaks with Jeanette Burdell at St. Joseph County Right to Life // WSBT 22 Photo
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A new study shows the abortion rate in the country is down since Roe v. Wade was decided on this day in 1973.

The Supreme Court’s landmark decision legalized abortion nationwide.

In 2014 rates hit a historic low at 14.6 abortions per a thousand women of child-bearing age. In 1973 the number was 16.3. and reached 30 in the early 1980s.

The study was conducted by the Guttmacher Institute. The organization is a group that supports legalized abortion.

Pro-life and pro-choice groups are welcoming the major conclusion of the study - that the abortion rate is going down across the country.

However, they are debating the reasons for this decline.

One reason they agree on? Abortion clinics have a hard time staying open.

“One big reason here locally, is we don't have abortion facility that's open. With that recent closure women are having more time to think through it," says Jeanette Burdell of St. Joseph County Right to Life.

Jamie Morgan from Pro Choice South Bend says, "Here in South Send you would need to drive over 100 miles to see an abortion provider and many require you to waiting periods, which could be 2 or 3 days before you have the procedure. It's dangerous because it's difficult for women to take time off of work, to drive somewhere, possibly have to spend the night, drive back. So that requires access to a vehicle and it requires money to stay somewhere. It's a very cost prohibitive procedure."

Outside of South Bend, abortions are also down across the country.

Pro-choice advocates say that's in part because there is more access to contraceptives.

Morgan says there is a "growing number of people who have done long acting reversible contraceptive so IUDs and implants are growing in popularity reducing the need for abortion care. It's been a great thing and under the Affordable Care Act women have had lots of access to contraceptives for free or for a low-cost options and having an IUD placed can cost thousands of dollars depending on where you go. So having that free access has been really improving peoples accessibility to make their own choices."

But Burdell says contraception leads to an abortion mindset. When contraception fails Burdell says some women think, "Well, usually I wouldn't believe in abortion but in this case I was being responsible. So it's what I see is my only option."

Pro-life advocates say there are other reasons why the abortion rate has dropped - including more education, greater social acceptance about pregnancy, less sexual activity among millennials and more options for pregnant women.

Burdell says. "We're trying to get the news out that there are vast resources of support." St. Joseph County Right to Life offers financial material, legal counseling, adoptive and medical help throughout pregnancy.

Anti-abortion laws and lawmakers are another reason pro-life advocates say abortion is declining.

Burdell says, "Isn't that an indication of society who is electing their representatives to enact these laws?"

Indiana lawmakers passed the Dignity for the Unborn Law last year. It requires that pregnant women get an ultrasound before deciding to end the pregnancy.

"It's like a seat belt law. We want to protect people and we want to protect the woman from making a choice she would regret in a hasty circumstance, and of course we want to protect her unborn child," says Burdell. "People are seeing the humanity of the unborn and they're realizing that this is human life."

No matter the reason, the numbers are clearly declining locally and across the nation. Both sides of the issue are working to understand it and looking ahead to what the new Trump Administration could change.

President Trump has already made moves to "ease the burden" of Obamacare.

"We hope that he will do as the platform states and preserve life and protect it. We hope to see Planned Parenthood defunded very soon. We believe in healthcare for everyone. We want everyone to have access to good care, but when you allow abortion and abortifacient contraception to be paid for and included in this, then religious organizations or organizations like ours shouldn't be forced to have to cover that," says Burdell.

Morgan says, “We hope to hold the line here in Indiana. We will not go back. Roe v. Wade is still very much the law of the land. We feel as though there are threats throughout the country right now – both within the federal government within Congress, within our own state house. We have bills that have come up to criminalize abortion and abortion providers, which is unconstitutional. We hope to see the Supreme Court rely on the precedents that have been set forward through Roe v. Wade and continue to act for on best for the health care of the American people."

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Pro Choice South Bend participated in the Women’s March yesterday, and St. Joseph County Right to Life will be hosting their March for Life on January 27th.

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