A political football

No doubt recent news about abortions will become a political football within days. It ought to be viewed as one of the great public health triumphs of the past few decades.

Abortions have become less common in the United States than at any time since they became legal, through a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, in 1973, the Guttmacher Institute reports. The organization is an advocate for the availability of abortions.

Much of the decline has occurred during the past quarter-century. Guttmacher’s study found that about 1.6 million abortions were performed in the United States in 1990. That number had been slashed nearly in half, to 862,000, by 2017.

Also in 2017, the rate of abortions was about 13.5 per 1,000 women aged 15-44, the study found. That was less than half the rate in 1990.

Fewer abortion clinics are available than was the case for many years, the institute notes. But, to its credit, Guttmacher noted major factors in the decline appear to be that fewer women are becoming pregnant — and many more have access to affordable birth control.

Guttmacher President Dr. Herminia Palacio could not resist throwing that political football we referred to above. Restrictions on abortion “are coercive and cruel by design,” she insisted.

Others may have a much different definition of “coercive and cruel” in the context of abortion.

But the fact remains that for various reasons, many more American women are not having to face the excruciating moral decision about abortion.

That is a public health victory of enormous proportions. Let us hope we can keep up the good — nay, wonderful — work.

By Josh Bovee

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