Last month, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released abortion figures for the year 2010. The data indicates that the national abortion rate continues its 20 year decline. The number of abortions performed declined by 3 percent between 2009 and 2010. This decline is fairly consistent across the country. The number of abortions went down in 36 of the 44 states that reported data to the CDC. Furthermore, there was no strong regional variation in the decline. The decline in southern states was actually slightly less than the national average. The abortion decline was nearly equal in red states and blue states.
The mainstream media often fails to cover abortion trends, and whatever coverage they do provide tends to be either misleading or superficial. This year’s coverage is no different. The only high-circulation newspaper to cover the 2010 abortion figures was the New York Times. They ran a brief article on November 27 contrasting the 3 percent decline in 2010 with the 5 percent decline in 2009. Unsurprisingly, the Times failed to mention that abortion numbers have fallen 18 out of the past 20 years or that the total number of abortions has declined by approximately 25 percent since 1990.
Whenever the media covers abortion trends, they often cite increased contraception use as the reason for the abortion drop. The Associated Press mentioned this in their coverage of the 2010 abortion figures. However, this assertion is not supported by the data. Contraception use began to increase well before abortions started to decline. And the unintended pregnancy rate has actually increased since the mid-1990s. Interestingly, since 1990 there has been a substantial increase in both pro-life public sentiment and state level pro-life laws. However, the mainstream media has scant interest in giving the pro-life movement any credit for declining abortion rates.
— Michael J. New is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Michigan – Dearborn and an Associate Scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_J_New.