Pregnancy Rates Sank Over Last 20 Years (and thus abortions) due to birth control

Posted on July 2, 2012


New York Times, July 2, 2012 by NICHOLAS BAKALAR

Pregnancy rates have decreased over the past two decades among all races, ethnicities and age groups — except for women in their 30s and early 40s.

A report issued in June by the National Center for Health Statistics says there were 4,248,000 live births in 2008, a rate of 68.1 per 1,000 women of childbearing age, down from 70.9 in 1990.

Pregnancy rates for teenagers (ages 15 to 19) fell 40 percent from 1990 to 2008, and rates for black and Hispanic adolescents also fell substantially, even though their rates are still two to three times that of white teenagers. Rates among 18- and 19-year-olds were 19 percent lower than among the 30-34 age group in 2008; in 1990 they were 41 percent higher.

Over the 19 years, pregnancy rates for women in their early 20s declined 18 percent, while the rates for women 35 to 39 rose 38 percent, and rates among women 40 to 44 went up 65 percent.

Abortions declined sharply, to 19.4 per 1,000 in 2008 from 27.4 in 1990 — about 400,000 fewer abortions. There were declines in abortions in all age groups except the oldest women, with the sharpest reductions in teenagers. Abortion rates among African-Americans were almost five times the rate of whites and more than twice that of Hispanics.

The overall pregnancy rate for black and Hispanic women was about 60 percent higher than for whites, but the disparity decreased with advancing age.

The report’s lead author, Stephanie J. Ventura, a demographer with the health statistics center, said the declining numbers were largely a result of birth control. “It’s not that the birthrate is going up and the abortion rate down, which has happened in the past,” she said. “Now everything is changing in the same direction, suggesting that more effective birth control is at work here.”

In 2008, 65 percent of pregnancies ended in a live birth, 18 percent in an induced abortion, and the rest in fetal loss. In 1990, 61 percent of pregnancies ended in a live birth, and 24 percent in an abortion.

Posted in: United States