Number of abortions continues to fall in Duluth, statewideThe number of abortions in Duluth and statewide was down in 2009 from the year before, continuing a decade-long trend, according to an annual report by the Minnesota Department of Health.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
The number of abortions in Duluth and statewide was down in 2009 from the year before, continuing a decade-long trend, according to an annual report by the Minnesota Department of Health.
The Women’s Health Center in Duluth, one of seven providers listed in the report, performed 583 abortions last year, down by 4 percent from the 609 in 2008. The statewide number was down from 12,948 to 12,388, also a 4 percent decline.
It was the lowest number of abortions in the state since 1975, according to the anti-abortion group Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, as well as the lowest rate: 10.9 per 1,000 females ages 15-44. Teen abortions accounted for 4 percent of the 2009 total.
The Health Department has reported abortion numbers since October 1998 and has reported annual figures every year since 1999. The peak year for Duluth was 2001, when there were 781 abortions, meaning there has been a
25 percent decrease over nine years. An exception to the trend in Duluth was last year, when the 609 abortions performed was up from 588 the year before. The state number declined both years.
Laurie Casey, executive director of the Women’s Health Center, said the decrease could have something to do with a changing population, with fewer women in the 18- to 26-year-old demographic who are the most likely to obtain abortions.
Casey also cited increased access to birth control, including the so-called “morning-after pill,” which is available over the counter to women
17 and older.
Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life welcomed the numbers, with a caveat.
“MCCL is very pleased to see that abortion numbers fell again last year,” Scott Fischbach, the group’s executive director, said in a news release. “Even so, the fact that so many pregnant women last year believed that abortion was their only option remains a tragedy.”
The organization attributed the decline, in part, to the Positive Alternative program passed by the state Legislature in 2005. The legislation established a grant program that provides money to organizations that help women facing problem pregnancies. Thirty-one organizations are participating, the news release said.
Joanne Martens, executive director of the Duluth-based Lake Superior Life Care Center, also cited the Positive Alternative program, which she said has allowed crisis pregnancy centers to provide increased programs and material support such as cribs, car seats, maternity clothes and baby items.
“I agree that the trend seems to be continuing downward, and I believe that this is due in part to women and society in general leaning more to a culture of life,” Martens said.
Kathi Di Nicola, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North and South Dakota, said her organization also welcomed the news. She said the decline could stem from a number of reasons but highlighted access to contraception and education.
“We think the overall decline in abortion is positive news for the women and families of the state,” Di Nicola said.
Casey agreed. “Our goal is to try to prevent unintended pregnancies,” she said. “No one likes abortion.”
Women living in St. Louis County had 413 abortions in 2009, according to the health department report. Abortion numbers for other Northeastern Minnesota counties: Carlton, 47; Cook, 7; Itasca, 48; Lake, 16.