U.S. abortions fell 5 percent during the recession and its aftermath in the biggest one-year decrease in at least a decade, perhaps because women are more careful to use birth control when times are tough, researchers say.
The decline, detailed last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, came in 2009, the most recent year for which statistics are available. Both the number of abortions and the abortion rate dropped by the same percentage.
Some experts theorize that some women believed they couldn’t afford to get pregnant.
“They stick to straight and narrow … and they are more careful about birth control,” said Elizabeth Ananat, a Duke University assistant professor of public policy and economics who has researched abortions.
While many states have aggressively restricted access to abortion, most of those laws were adopted in the past two years and are not believed to have played a role in the decline.
Abortions have been dropping slightly over much of the past decade. But before this latest report, they had pretty much leveled off.
Nearly all states report abortion numbers to the federal government, but it’s voluntary. A few states — including California, which has the largest population and largest number of abortion providers — don’t send in data. While experts estimate there are more than 1 million abortions nationwide each year, the CDC counted about 785,000 in 2009 because of incomplete reporting.