More than 40 years after Roe v. Wade became the law of the land, the number of women having abortions has hit a decade low, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday.
While there was a significant spike in abortions immediately following the 1973 Supreme Court ruling legalizing the procedure, there was a slow decline after 1980. The Washington Post reports that trend continued until 2006 to 2008, when there was a slight increase, followed by even greater decreases in the last several years.
The latest data, from 2015, shows the rate was 11.8 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 – down from 26 percent from 2006. Meanwhile, among girls aged 15 to 19, the rate dropped by 54 percent during the same time period.
"This decrease in abortion rate was greater than the decreases for women in any older age group," the CDC said in a statement.
While the CDC was silent on the reason for the decline in women seeking the procedure, abortion advocates were quick to weigh in with their own theories. Specifically, they cited the increased use of contraceptives coupled with a decrease in access to abortion services as the reason for the drop in the abortion rate.
"Affordable access to the full range of contraception and family planning options is critical for people deciding if and when they'd like to become parents, develop their careers, plan for their futures and manage their health," Reuters quoted Rachel Jones, research scientist at Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health think tank that supports abortion rights.
Normally, pro-life advocates would be celebrating such statistics. But Abby Johnson, head of And Then There Were None and former Planned Parenthood director, says the CDC numbers are questionable at best.
"It's always good news when abortions decline, but these numbers are hard to take seriously when the state that performs the most abortions is not included in the report," she said. "There is also no record of the many complications of abortion that women experience, likely because those instances are shoved under the mat in many abortion clinics."
Another concern for Johnson? The report's noted widespread use of the abortion drug, RU-486.
"I was careful to steer women away from this drug when I worked at Planned Parenthood because of the debilitating pain it put women through," she said. "The disproportionately high number of abortions in the black community relative to their population is terribly sad. Women need to be loved, not condemned, when faced with having an abortion or even working in the abortion industry."
Meanwhile, Johnson is hoping her work helping abortion workers to leave the industry will ultimately lead to the demise of the gruesome practice.
"We are hopeful abortion rates will continue to drop as abortion clinics close their doors because no one will work for them," she said.