Abortion falls to record low in the U.S., CDC says

Abortion in the U.S. is at record-low levels, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of induced abortions was 1.1 million in 2010, the most recent year for which statistics are available. That’s down from a high of 1.6 million in 1990, the report said.

The abortion rate also hit a new low in 2010, with 17.7 of the procedures performed per 1,000 women of childbearing age. That figure was as high as 29.4 abortions per 1,000 women in 1980.

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The report, released Friday by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, shows that induced abortions fell among all major racial and ethnic groups.

For whites, the abortion rate in 2010 was 9.8 per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44. That’s down from a rate of 19.7 per 1,000 women of childbearing age in 1990.

Among Latinas, the abortion rate fell from 35.1 per 1,000 women of childbearing age in 1990 to 20.3 per 1,000 in 2010.

The rate was still highest for black women, with 47.7 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age. That was down from 67 abortions per 1,000 women in 1990, according to the report.

Figures for Asian American women were not released.

Preliminary estimates for 2011 suggest that both the number and rate of abortions are continuing to fall, the report authors wrote.

The progress in reducing the number of abortions comes amid an overall decline in pregnancies among American women.

Nearly 6.2 million American women became pregnant in 2010, which equates to 98.7 pregnancies per 1,000 women of childbearing age. The overall number of pregnancies is lower than it has been since 1986, and the pregnancy rate is the lowest since at least 1976, according to the report. The pregnancy rate peaked in 1990, with 115.8 per 1,000 women of childbearing age.

The pregnancy rate for women under 30 has been falling since 1990 as more American women wait longer to start their families. In 2010, the pregnancy rate was 144.6 per 1,000 women between the ages 20 and 24, and it was 157.1 per 1,000 women ages of 25 and 29. Those are declines of 27% and 12%, respectively.

But the biggest drop was seen among teenagers. Among young women between the ages of 15 and 19, the pregnancy rate was 50% lower in 2010 than it was in 1990. For girls ages 14 and under, the pregnancy rate plunged 67% in that 20-year period.

In 2010, the pregnancy rate for African American women (135.1 per 1,000 women of childbearing age) was higher than for Latinas (118.4 per 1,000 women) or for white women (84.1 per 1,000 women), the report said.

The study was based on records from the National Vital Statistics System and the Abortion Surveillance System, both run by the CDC. It also included data from the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit that tracks issues related to reproductive health and advocates for abortion rights.

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