The number of abortions performed in Minnesota declined in 2008 for the second straight year and marked the lowest number in more than 30 years. Reproductive health advocates said the decline is due to access to birth control and education, while the state’s largest anti-abortion group says programs to persuade pregnant woman from having an abortion were responsible for the decline.
According to a report (PDF) released this week by the Minnesota Department of Health, 12,948 abortions were performed in 2008 – down from 13,843 in 2007 and the lowest number since 1975.
Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota said the decrease could be attributed to affordable access to birth control.
“The best way to sustain reductions in the need for abortion is to provide accessible, affordable birth control and accurate, fact based sexuality education to all Minnesotans,” said Kathi Di Nicola, PPMNS communications director. “Planned Parenthood continues to work with the legislature and in our clinics across the state to do just that.”
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Di Nicola noted that 95 percent of the care PPMNS provides comes in the form of prevention. The organization provided more than 300,000 units of contraception, nearly 58,000 tests for sexually transmitted diseases, more than 20,000 breast cancer screenings and more than 17,000 cervical cancer screenings.
“The overall decline in abortion in nearly every category is positive news and a goal that PPMNS works toward every day in our clinics across the region,” she said.
Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group, said the decline was due to the Positive Alternatives program, a faith-based, state-funded program that urges women considering abortion to forgo the procedure.
“This report demonstrates that Positive Alternatives is working for women and their unborn babies,” said Scott Fischbach, executive director for MCCL.
While MCCL is openly hostile to PPMNS, Di Nicola offered an olive branch in working to reduce abortions in Minnesota through education and contraception.
“We again call on groups like the MCCL join to with us in taking tangible, common-sense steps to prevent unintended pregnancy and reduce the need for abortion in Minnesota,” she said.