California

California abortion rate drops to historic low. Here’s where the state ranks in U.S.

The abortion rate in California has fallen to the lowest level in decades, a trend that corresponds with a drop in pregnancies, new data show.

About 133,000 abortions took place in California during 2017, down from about 157,000 abortions in 2014, according to the nonprofit Guttmacher Institute.

That translates to about 16.4 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 in 2017, down from a rate of 19.5 abortions per 1,000 women in 2014. Abortion rates have fallen by more than 60 percent in California since the early 1990s. Abortion rates also fell nationwide.

The birth rate in California has fallen alongside the abortion rate, suggesting increased use of birth control. In 2017, there were about 58.2 births per 1,000 California women aged 15-44, down from 62.4 births per 1,000 women in 2014, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

California had the ninth-highest abortion rate in the nation in 2017, tied with Nevada. New Jersey had the nation’s highest abortion rate, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Wyoming had the lowest.

Access to abortion has been restricted in some states as conservative legislatures seek to test the U.S. Supreme Court’s commitment to the landmark Roe vs. Wade case that legalized abortions.

At the same time, there is evidence of a growing black market in abortion pills. The Guttmacher Institute data tracks only legal abortions.

But California is moving in the opposite direction, and has recently passed laws increasing access to abortion.

About 97 percent of women in California live in a county with at least one abortion-providing clinic, the highest rate in America.

Phillip Reese is a data specialist at The Bee who also teaches at Sacramento State: 916-321-1137

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Phillip Reese is a data specialist at The Sacramento Bee and an assistant professor of journalism at Sacramento State. His journalism has won the George Polk and Worth Bingham awards, and he was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting.
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