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Syracuse Post-Standard: Abortion rate hits record low as clash looms between Trump, abortion-rights advocates

By Jim Mulder, 1/19/17

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The U.S. abortion rate has hit a historic low as a clash looms between President-elect Donald Trump, who has vowed to outlaw abortion, and abortion rights advocates, many of whom will join the Women’s March on Washington Saturday.

For the first time since 1975, the number of abortions in the U.S. dropped below 1 million in 2013 and 2014, according to a report put out this week by the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive research group in New York City.

The report shows there were 926,200 abortions in 2014, or 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women, down 14 percent since 2011.

Increased use of birth control and more effective methods of contraception such as IUDs and implants are probably the biggest factors behind the decline, according to the report. It also says a wave of abortion restrictions passed by states over the past five years may have contributed to the decline.

There were 119,940 abortions in New York in 2014, or 29.6 per 1,000 women, down 13 percent since 2011.

State Health Department data shows abortions declined between 2012 and 2014 by 16 percent in Central New York, 1.42 percent in the Albany region, 4.31 percent in Western New York and 8.3 percent in New York City.

Trump opposes abortion and has said he wants the U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion overturned. He has vowed to appoint an anti-abortion justice to the Supreme Court. He also wants to cut government funding to Planned Parenthood that provides abortion and other health care to women at more than 650 clinics nationwide. Many Republicans in Congress support Trump’s anti-abortion positions.

New York became the first state to legalize abortion in 1970, three years before Roe v. Wade.

In Albany, members of the Democratic-controlled Assembly took action earlier this week to protect access to abortion in New York in the event Roe vs. Wade is overturned.

The Assembly passed a bill that would protect under state law the same rights a woman has to an abortion under federal law. The Senate has rejected previous versions of the bill.

Federal law allows late-term abortion after 24 weeks if the pregnancy threatens the woman’s health. New York’s law is more restrictive. It allows abortion after 24 weeks only if the woman’s life is at stake.

New York law only allows doctors to perform abortions. The Assembly bill would allow physician assistants, nurse practitioners or professional midwives to perform abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

The New York State Catholic Conference opposes the bill. “This bill will allow abortion for any reason and at any time during a pregnancy, including into the ninth month,” the conference said in a memo opposing the bill. “It will encourage more late-term abortionists to come into New York and it will lead to more third-trimester abortions in New York State.”

Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried, D-NY, said in a statement New York has a long history of being a pro-choice state.

“As Washington threatens reproductive health care rights and access, it is more critical than ever that we organize and fight to protect every woman’s reproductive rights,” he said.