CDC: Abortions down significantly in Iowa, nationwide


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Abortion rates have fallen significantly nationally and in Iowa, but some local officials dispute the cause behind the decrease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a significant decrease in abortions across the nation in 2009 — the most recent year data are available. The number and rate of abortions fell 5 percentage points from 2008 and 2009, the largest decrease from 2000 to 2009.

The Emma Goldman Clinic reports similar results.

“We definitely have seen the same trends,” said Jennifer Price, the director of the clinic, 227 N. Dubuque St.

However, Price is not sure what the future will bring. The CDC’s report reflects the most recent data, but that is only from 2009.

“It does seem like it has leveled off over the last few years,” she said.

Price attributes the decrease to women’s increased access to affordable birth control — a sentiment heard in many areas.

“Nationally, and here in Iowa, birth rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion rates have all decreased over the past several years due to a variety of socioeconomic reasons including the struggling economy, increased contraceptive use, and access to family-planning services,” Jill June, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said in a statement.

Diana Cates, a University of Iowa professor who teaches a Sexual Ethics course, echoed one of those ideas.

“My suspicion would be that more women are using birth control,” she said.

Not everyone agrees.

“The idea that contraceptives decrease abortion is not true,” said Maggie DeWitte, the director of the Iowans For Life. “Availability of contraceptives actually increases abortion.”

Instead, DeWitte hopes the decrease is due more to the influence of anti-abortion organizations.
“I would love to believe that the number of abortions have decreased in Iowa,” she said. “[And] that the pro-life movement is there assisting women.”

Cates said the anti-abortion movement might be part of the decrease.

“I would expect them to be more effective, but I don’t think it’s a major effect,” she said.

Cates believes the changes conservative groups have undergone have increased their influence.

These changes include making adoption easier and increasing rational conversations.

“Pro-life groups are becoming more sophisticated,” Cates said. “They’re actually having respectful conversations and are potentially more influential.”

The CDC cites contraceptive use as a viable way to decrease abortions.

“Because unintended pregnancies are rare among women who use the most effective methods of reversible contraception, increasing access to and use of these methods can help further reduce the number of abortions performed in the United States,” reports the CDC’s Abortion Surveillance 2009 report.

But DeWitte insists there are other options to preventing abortions.

“Contraceptive isn’t the end all be all,” she said. “There are other options.”

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