PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The debate about and eventual confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court once again brought Roe v. Wade — the 1973 decision legalizing abortion — into the spotlight. Barrett is widely thought to likely side with conservative attempts to roll it back or rule it unconstitutional during a future case.
This comes at the same time Oregon is on pace to have the lowest number of abortions since records began being kept.
There were 3264 abortions performed in Oregon in the fist 6 months of 2020. Even doubling that number would put the state far under the previous low of 8231 for the entire year in 2014.
“I think there’s probably as many reasons as there are women who have been in that situation and made that decision,” said Lois Anderson, the Executive Director for Oregon Right to Life.
She said there are more pregnancy resource centers to help women have babies. There is better access to health care, she said, and the availability of information on the internet is also a factor.
“You can go on your phone and you can see images of, you know, babies given the thumbs up or sucking their thumb or dancing in the womb,” she said. “And so there’s this really just general knowledge that an unborn child is not anything other than a growing human being.”
The numbers in Oregon started to dip in 2001, when there were 14,272 abortions. Last year there were 8688.
A similar trend is underway in Washington. In 1990, there were 30,613 abortions in Washington state. In 2019, there were 17,087 according to preliminary data.
KOIN 6 News requested an interview with Planned Parenthood officials, who instead provided this statement:
“This trend confirms what we’ve long known to be true: Increasing people’s access to affordable and effective methods of birth control — as well as accurate and inclusive sexual health education — leads to fewer unintended pregnancies. Restrictive state laws and abstinence-only programs are not responsible for a reduction in abortion. This shouldn’t be up for debate.”
A recent CDC report said in addition to better health care and contraception access, there are other factors: mandatory waiting periods in some states, increasing acceptance of unmarried mothers and changes to the economy.
Over the last decade there has also been a sharp decline in teenage pregnancies. The CDC said “evidence suggests these declines are due to more teens abstaining from sexual activity, and more teens who are sexually active using birth control.”
The pandemic also likely plays a role.
The numbers showing Oregon on a record low pace could change significantly when they’re made final next year. In 2018, the state was on pace the first 6 months to have the lowest-ever number. The final numbers for 2018 were low, but not a record low.