Abortions in Massachusetts Down Nearly 11 Percent Since 2010 - NECN
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Abortions in Massachusetts Down Nearly 11 Percent Since 2010

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    Abortions in Massachusetts Down Nearly 11 Percent Since 2010
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    WASHINGTON - JANUARY 22: Pro-choice advocates participate in protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building January 22, 2010 in Washington, DC. Activists from across the nation gathered to commemorate the 37th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which decriminalized abortion in all fifty states. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

    As the political fight in Washington over Planned Parenthood intensifies, the number of abortions performed in Massachusetts continues to fall.

    Abortions in the state have dropped by nearly 11 percent - from 20,802 in 2010 to 18,570 in 2015 - according to an Associated Press review of the most recent Massachusetts Department of Public Health statistics.

    The decline mirrors nationwide trends.

    A report released in November by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the abortion rate for 2013 was 12.5 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44 - down 5 percent from 2012 and half the number of abortions reported in 1980.

    A more recent survey by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, found the annual number of abortions in the U.S dropped to well under 1 million in 2014, the lowest since 1974.

    This month, President Donald Trump signed legislation aimed at letting states deny federal family planning money to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. The law reverses a rule that said states couldn't block the money.

    But Jennifer Childs-Roshak, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, said the drop in the number of abortions is often overlooked in the political debate over funds for Planned Parenthood. She said better access to birth control, more reliable birth control and better sex education are responsible for the decline.

    A key to the improved access to birth control nationally was the 2010 health care law signed by President Barack Obama that classified birth control as a preventative service, she said.

    "When you make it easy for women to use birth control, they use it and it works," she said.

    Massachusetts Citizens for Life President Anne Fox credited the drop in abortions in part on efforts by her group, including social media campaigns, a quarterly magazine and educational programs targeted at high schoolers and others.

    "It absolutely is happening, we're thrilled, and we absolutely believe our education efforts are making a difference," Fox said. "Our goal is to educate everyone so there isn't a need to go to the door of a clinic."

    The statistics also show why Planned Parenthood remains at the center of the abortion debate more than four decades after the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that established a nationwide right to abortion. More than 57 percent of the abortions in Massachusetts during 2015 were performed at Planned Parenthood clinics.

    In Massachusetts, support for the organization remains strong. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has said his administration is prepared to increase state assistance for Planned Parenthood clinics if Congress blocks Medicaid funding for the organization.

    The Massachusetts statistics provide other detail on abortions in 2015, including:

    -Nearly 77 percent were obtained by women between the ages of 20 and 34.

    -71 percent of the abortions were performed in the first eight weeks of pregnancy; just 15 abortions were performed at 24 weeks of pregnancy or later.

    -More than 74 percent of abortions were obtained by women who were not married.

    -About 46 percent of the women obtaining abortions were white, compared to 16 percent who were black, about 13 percent who were Hispanic and 6 percent who were Asian.

    -Half of the abortions were first-time abortions for the women involved; 25 percent had had one previous abortion while 9 percent had had three or more previous abortions.

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