Utah abortion rate up slightly, ending downward trend


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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Utah’s abortion rate rose slightly in 2015 to end a four-year downward trend that left the number near historic lows that reflect a nationwide decline, a new state report shows.

There were 4.6 abortions performed last year for every 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, according to the Utah Department of Health report.

The number marked an increase from 2014’s rate of 4.3 abortions per 1,000 women.

The rate had hovered around 6 per 1,000 women for about 20 years until the downturn.

The national rate of 12.5 abortions per 1,000 women from 15 to 44 in 2013 was the lowest level in decades, a new report from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows based on the most current data available form 47 states.

The last time the CDC recorded a lower abortion rate was in 1971, two years before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision established the right for women to have abortions. Abortion was legal in some states at that time.

The CDC report suggests there are several factors behind the abortion decline, including a sharp drop in adolescent pregnancies, expanded coverage of contraception costs by health care plans, and increased use of effective, long-lasting contraceptive methods such as intrauterine devices and hormonal implants.

The Utah Health Department report for 2015 also showed:

– Women in their 20s accounted for 57 percent of abortions and had the highest rates.
– More than two-thirds of the nearly 3,000 abortions performed for Utah residents involved unmarried women.
– About half the women who had an abortion had at least one child previously.
– It was the second abortion for about 23 percent of the women.
– Nearly seven in 10 abortions were performed within the first eight weeks of gestation. Less than 1 percent were performed after 21 weeks. (Many anti-abortion activists want a federal abortion ban to be imposed after 20 weeks.)
– Six in 10 abortions occurred in Salt Lake County – the most urban and most populated county in the state. Three other counties had more than 100 abortions: Utah (330), Weber (279) and Davis (217).
– Since Utah started tracking the rates in 1975, the highest recorded rate was 11.1 per 1,000 women in 1980.

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