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Abortions Fell Most in a Decade as Teen Rate Declined

Nov. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Abortions in the U.S. fell 5 percent in 2009, the biggest annual drop since at least 2000, as the rate of teenage pregnancies declined, health officials said.

A total of 784,507 abortions were reported in 2009, with a ratio of 227 abortions for every 1,000 live births, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report today. The report included the District of Columbia and New York City while excluding seven states that didn’t provide enough data.

The decline in abortions occurred as the U.S. birth rate was falling for three straight years, dropping in 2010 to the lowest level since 1987. Adolescent pregnancies plunged, reflected in the lowest-ever teen birth rate in 2010 and an even steeper decrease in teen abortions, the report authors said.

“Given that unintended pregnancy precedes nearly all abortions, efforts to reduce the incidence of abortion need to focus on helping women avoid pregnancies that they do not desire,” the report’s authors wrote.

The data also showed more women have abortions early in gestation, with the majority of terminations performed at less than eight weeks. That’s when the risks for complications are lowest, the authors wrote.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Lopatto in San Francisco at elopatto@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net.

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