In my Jan. 23 Washington Examiner column, timed to coincide with the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, I noted that the number of abortions has been declining for years and wrote that "the absolute number of abortions increased to a peak of 1.6 million in 1990. Since then, the number has declined to 1.2 million or perhaps below."
Considerably below, it turns out. The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion-rights organization whose numbers I have noted are accepted by those on both sides of the issue, has just released a study on the latest available figures. It states that the number of abortions declined from 1.21 million in 2008 to 1.06 million in 2011, a 12 percent decline. That represents a decline from 23 to 21 per 100 pregnancies. Note that the study argues that this decline does not reflect, or does not reflect very much, the restrictive laws passed, to the Guttmacher Institute's regret, in many states in 2011 and after, since few of those laws went into effect in calendar year 2011. The number of abortion providers, it reports, did not substantially decline between 2008 and 2011.
Abortion opponents take issue with the claim that state laws had little effect. The larger point remains undisputed. The Supreme Court has declared abortion, at least up to some point, a right. But it's a right that increasingly fewer Americans choose to exercise.