Minnesota abortion rates at lowest since 1975

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Minnesota saw 11,071 abortions reported in 2011, the lowest since 1975, when the Minnesota Department of Health began tracking abortion, according to a department report released this week.

Reasons for the decline could include more women choosing adoption and parenting over abortion, as well as increased access to contraception. In 1975, there were 10,565 abortions reported. In the next few years there was a jump — 1980 saw 19,028 — and abortions have steadily dropped since.

Jen Aulwes, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, said abortion rates have been declining largely due to the increased access to contraception and sex education.

Planned Parenthood feels it has also played a role in the decrease in abortion rates, Aulwes said, because 95 percent of the services they provide are preventative, like contraception. Last year, Planned Parenthood branches throughout Minnesota distributed 325,000 units of contraception, she said.

The Positive Alternatives Program began by Minnesota Department of Health in 2005 funds centers that assist women with carrying a pregnancy to term. According to the program’s website, it currently funds about 30 centers, including the anti-abortion University LifeCare Center near the University of Minnesota.

“Organizations like us exist to make sure people know they have three choices, not just one,” said Lisa Schmitz, executive director of the ULCC.

Schmitz said easier access to contraception may have helped reduce the number of abortions.

“We have seen a decline in the number of clients, pregnancy tests and so on since the morning-after pill became legal and over the counter,” she said.

For more perspectives on the decrease in abortion, check out Wednesday’s issue of the Daily.