Education, contraceptives aid in declining abortion rates

A recent study has found that the abortion rate is the lowest it has been since its legalization in the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. This news comes as somewhat of a shock in a culture struggling with increasing teen pregnancy rates as well as abstinence- based sex education being funded by the federal government.

Many Americans would assume this recent decrease is a direct result of state laws restricting access to abortions, like those recently implemented in Texas. Indeed, The Huffington Post reported there have been 54 abortion clinic closings nationwide since 2013.

While it would seem reasonable to assume that clinic closings and pro-life arguments are the source of the decline, this is not the case. According to the study, “While most of the new laws were enacted in states in the Midwest and the South, abortion incidences declined in all regions.”

In other words, the closing of clinics is not affecting the number of abortions being performed. So if pro-life arguments and abortion restrictions are not the reason the entire nation is seeing a drop in abortions, what is responsible?

Many argue that the decrease is due to the liberalization of contraception laws, as well as the greater acceptance of single, young mothers. If the nation intends on making these trends of decreasing abortion rates continue, the best place to make a real impact is in the classroom.

Isabel V. Sawhill, a well-respected budget expert and graduate from New York University, wrote in her article “Welfare Reform and Teen Pregnancy” that “teenage pregnancy rates in America are still at least twice as high as in other industrialized countries and about as high as they were in the early 1970s. About half of these pregnancies are carried to term while the remainder either end with a miscarriage or are terminated by an abortion.”

Considering the facts, the best way to reduce abortion rates is to take action with teenagers and educate them properly. Unfortunately, current sexual education programs across the U.S. still aren’t cutting it. In Pamela K. Kohler’s “Abstinence- only and Comprehensive Sex Education and the Initiation of Sexual Activity and Teen Pregnancy,” the issue of abstinence- only education is on full display. Kohler notes,

“U.S. fiscal policy has allocated increasing amounts of funding to abstinence-only prevention programs. In 2001, abstinence-only education programs received $80 million in federal funding, and by 2005 federal funding had more than doubled to $167 million.”

Federal funding is heading in the wrong direction by spending more money on education to teach young people to not have sex, rather than how to make safe choices if they decide to do so. It’s clearly no small feat to have lowered abortion to its lowest rate since the 1970s.

However, there is still much work ahead to prevent as many unplanned pregnancies as possible from happening. Restricting abortion access, as well as not teaching America’s youth how to make safe and educated sexual choices, only keeps the

United States from progressing. With education comes smarter choices, and without it ignorant choices will be made. Hopefully the federal government will realize this sooner rather than later in order to maintain the decline in abortion rates.