In her column “How ‘tragic’ are Mass. GOP’s abortion views?” (Op-ed, March 2), Joan Vennochi asks whether the recent decline in US abortion rates is attributable to the numerous state-level abortion restrictions passed in recent years. The answer is no. As women’s health organizations have pointed out, the Guttmacher Institute, whose study noted the decline, specifically maintains that restrictions on abortion are not the cause of lower abortion rates.
These data predate the recent uptick in laws passed to restrict abortion access. Furthermore, the recent decrease in the abortion rate corresponds with declining overall pregnancy rates and increased use of highly effective, long-acting methods of birth control, such as the IUD.
The decrease in the abortion rate is definitively not a victory for the anti-abortion movement. It is a victory for all women who are managing their reproductive health through better access to contraception. Restrictive abortion laws don’t reduce abortion; rather, they limit women’s options, forcing them to travel long distances, delay abortion until later in pregnancy, or turn to unsafe providers.
As a physician, I hope that Republicans and Democrats alike will support this downward trend by championing access to birth control and comprehensive sexuality education rather than eroding access to safe, legal abortion.
The writer is an obstetrician and gynecologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.