We will keep debating the politics, morality and social implications, but for now let's just pause and celebrate the good news: The number of abortions performed last year in Indiana totaled 7,277, according to data recently released by the State Department of Public Health. That was 8.5 percent fewer abortions than the 7,957 recorded in 2015, continuing an eight-year trend of annual declines in abortion procedures.
If you like hard numbers, that's 680 more babies saved from abortion.
And the good news continues. There isn't just a decline in Indiana. Abortions are down across the nation.
A report earlier this year by the Guttmacher Institute puts the national rate at 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age (ages 15-44) in 2014. That's the lowest recorded rate since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. The rate has been declining for decades — down from a peak of 29.3 in 1980 and 1981.
The report also finds that in 2013, the total number of abortions nationwide fell below 1 million for the first time since the mid-1970s. In 2014 — the most recent year with data available — the number fell a bit more, to 926,200. The overall number had peaked at more than 1.6 million abortions in 1990, according to Guttmacher.
Pro-life forces credit tough new abortion regulations at the state level and the closing of numerous abortion clinics for the decline. In Indiana, for example, activists tout such legislation as the ban on abortions sought solely because of a fetal diagnosis of a disability, and the requirement that parents of minors be notified of their children's' abortion intentions. Even though most of the laws have been legally challenged, the publicity about them can change minds.
Pro-choice advocates, on the other hand, say the decline is due mostly to more birth control and comprehensive sex education. “The fact is that no one in the state of Indiana does more to help Hoosiers prevent unintended pregnancies, which lowers the rate of abortion, than PPINK,” said Christie Gillespie, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky.
We will accept all those reasons and say to both sides: Keep up the good work. Abortion is almost always the wrong solution at the wrong time for the wrong reason. The more that message gets out, the better off we all are.