Friday, August 12, 2016

Another factor in the plummeting abortion rate

Abortion reporting is always a few years behind; the best data we have is from 2011. In that year, the abortion rate in the United States hit a record low. As the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute notes, abortion rates have fallen even in states that are traditionally hostile to the right to life. The plummeting demand for abortion is a major factor behind the closure of abortion businesses nationwide.

That leads to an obvious question: what's causing the lack of demand? You might point to increased contraceptive use/better methods, increased public support for the pro-life stance (particularly among young people of reproductive age), or the growth of pregnancy resource centers. I have no doubt that all of the above play a role. But let's not place ourselves at the center of the universe. Sometimes, the abortion rate is impacted by random societal factors that have nothing to do with deliberate pro-life or pro-choice strategies.

Case in point: a study published earlier this month shows that young adults are increasingly abstaining from sexual intercourse. More precisely, "among those aged 20–24, more than twice as many Millennials born in the 1990s (15%) had no sexual partners since age 18 compared to GenX’ers born in the 1960s (6%)." Fifteen percent may not seem like much in absolute terms, but the shift presents a significant challenge for the abortion industry; a third of its customers are between the ages of 20 and 24.

Surveys have repeatedly shown that organized religion is less important in the lives of Millennials compared to older generations. So it's no surprise that the 15% of abstinent early-20-somethings appear to be motivated primarily by personal, rather than religious, considerations. The Washington Post's coverage of the study offers several potential reasons for the drop in sexual activity, including women becoming more empowered to say no, fewer opportunities for in-person (as opposed to online) social interaction, student loan debt and poor economic recovery causing Millennials to prioritize work over dating, and fear of intimacy.* Anecdotally, as a single woman myself (albeit a tad older at 28), I'd say that's pretty accurate.

If this trend continues—and as the Washington Post notes, studies of the teen cohort suggest it will—unplanned pregnancies will of course decline, and abortion businesses will struggle to stay afloat. No wonder they're itching for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment to turn on a spigot of taxpayer money.

*Concerns about pregnancy or STDs didn't make the cut. After all, they've been around a lot longer than 24-year-olds have, so they can't explain an increase in abstinence.

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