Even as the election outcome intensifies America's abortion debate, a comprehensive new survey finds the annual number of abortions in the US has dropped to well under 1 million, the lowest level since 1974, reports the AP. The report, which counted 926,200 abortions in 2014, was released Tuesday by the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights. The total from 2014 represented a drop of 12.5% from Guttmacher's 2011 data showing 1.06 million abortions that year. The decrease was spread nationwide; in only six states did abortions increase over the three-year span. The abortion rate of 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 in 2014 was the lowest rate since abortion was legalized nationally in 1973.
The number of abortions in the US rose steadily after the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, reaching a peak of 1.6 million in 1990 before starting a decline. Guttmacher researchers say the latest phase of the decline was likely the result of increased availability of affordable, long-lasting contraceptives and the surge of abortion restrictions in many states that have forced some clinics to close and hindered many women's access to the procedure. According to the report, the number of abortion clinics nationwide declined by 6% from 839 in 2011 to 788 in 2014. Planned Parenthood, a major supplier of contraceptives, provided more than one-third of the nation's abortions in 2014. Republicans are now seeking to halt its federal funding. (Read more abortion stories.)