Abortion rate keeps dropping

From Thursday's Globe and Mail
May 22, 2008 at 9:00 AM EDT

Coinciding with this month's news that Canadian women will soon be able to grab the morning-after pill off drugstore shelves, a new Statistics Canada report shows that the country's abortion rate continues to decline, particularly among teens.

Between 2004 and 2005, the most recent data available, the number of induced abortions dropped 3.2 per cent to 96,815, continuing a five-year downward trend. The rates fell in every age group except for women aged 35 to 39, which remained the same.

The largest decline was among women under 20. Overall birth rates among women under 20 have also continued to decline during the past decade, dropping from 18.6 live births for every 1,000 teens in 1996 to 11.1 in 2005, according to the report.

Sexual health educators seized upon the data yesterday as proof that sex education programs and websites promoting safe-sex practices are working. Many provinces mandate sex education programs that encourage school-age kids to talk about sex and show them how to roll on a condom.

"The trend reflects better, more accessible sex education and greater use of condoms by teens," said Laura Wershler, executive director of Sexual Health Access Alberta, formerly Planned Parenthood Alberta.

The United States has also seen a decline in its abortion rates, with the annual number of abortions dropping from 1.3 million to 1.2 million between 2004 and 2005 - the fewest since 1975 - according to a Guttmacher Institute report released this year.

Almost two-thirds of the U.S. decline was traced to eight jurisdictions that had fewer barriers to abortion and had committed to sex education - a departure from the Bush administration's abstinence-only approach - giving ammunition to those who say that openness about sexual intercourse is the best abortion prevention strategy.

However, experts point out that Canada's patchy method of compiling abortion statistics means there could be thousands of abortions unaccounted for.

Thank god some people are finally catching on to the idea that birth control can be preventative.

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