4 facts about abortion you may not know

Today is the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the decision that legalized abortion in the United States.

I came of age before this landmark decision.

I have lived through times when backroom, horrifying abortions were the norm for women who felt compelled to end a pregnancy  (when I was a young woman, I had friends who made this dangerous choice).

I have lived through the times when abortion was a readily available service and, at the extreme end, I knew several women who used abortion as a default birth control method.

Today, we live in a time when abortion is legal but has become sharply restricted in many states or even close to unavailable (e.g., Mississippi’s last abortion clinic is set to shut down).

Given the sharp division the abortion issue has created in our nation’s political and cultural life, I did not think we should let this day pass without taking note. This morning, we aired an NPR overview of the history behind Roe v. Wade (the link will take you to the audio as well as text and some great photographs). At noon, on Fresh Air, Terry Gross had a related conversation, focusing in on new abortion restrictions put in place in Texas. You’ll find additional information on the history of Roe v. Wade at this women’s history website.

Here are 4 facts from the Center for Disease Control that surprised me:

> In 2009, there were about 785,000 legal induced abortions reported to the CDC. In 1979, there were about 1,250,000 reported legal abortions.

> Compared with 2008, the total number and rate of reported abortions for 2009 decreased 5% and the abortion ratio decreased 2%. The change from 2008 to 2009 represented the largest single year decrease in the total number and rate of reported abortions for the entire period from 2000 to 2009. (In other words, abortion rates continue to go down.)

> In 2009, percent of all births to unmarried women: 40.8%

> If you check out this map of teenage births by state, you will find a correlation between states that have dramatically restricted access to abortion and higher rates of teenage births.

As I said at the outset, this is a divisive subject. People have passionately held opinions. If you comment, please keep your remarks civil. Thank you.



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1 Comment on “4 facts about abortion you may not know”

  1. Pete Klein says:

    I guess what it comes down to is answering one question. What is a woman? Is she a person or a baby machine?
    There might be a second question. What is an abortion? It would seem to me, an abortion is an operation. If it is an operation, it should be treated as any other operation and the decision to have or not have should be up to the woman.
    The argument, of course, is what is being aborted? Is it a human or something else.
    In my opinion, it is not a human until it comes out and starts breathing on its own. Until then, it is a potential human but is not yet a human.
    An analogy could be any work of art or anything that is manufactured. A car is not a car until it is completed and driven out of the plant.

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