A new study released on Wednesday by the Guttmacher institute shows that abortion rates have fallen to their lowest level since the procedure was legalized in 1973, according to the BBC.
The study shows that abortion rates declined 7% from 2014 to 2017 and that, in 2017, 862,320 abortions were performed. This is lower than 2011 by about 200,000 abortions and down from a high of 1.6 million in 1990.
The institute says that the lower number isn’t necessarily a result of new laws or conservative politicians trying to restrict access. Rather, it offers several different theories as to why the rate could be plummeting.
First, it suggests that better reproductive healthcare could be part of the reason. The authors of the report found that better access to contraception and improvement in female contraception, like IUDs and implants, may have contributed to the decline. These forms of contraception are now covered by insurance companies due to the 2009 Affordable Care Act.
Elizabeth Nash, a policy manager for the Guttmacher Institute said that the report shows the national average. She pointed out that even though the average distance traveled for an abortion was 34 miles, some women were forced to travel much further.