Abortions decline in Minnesota
Fewer Minnesota women are having abortions, according to numbers collected by the Minnesota Department of Health.
In 2006, there were 12,948 abortions for Minnesota residents.
Each year since then, the numbers have dropped slightly. By 2010, the number of abortions for Minnesota residents had fallen to 11,391, despite a growing population.
The decrease in southeastern Minnesota parallels that of the state, dropping from 589 abortions in 2006 to 513 in 2010.
The health department has not analyzed the reasons behind the decrease, but people who closely follow the abortion issue have opinions concerning the decline.
Connie Lewis, vice president of external affairs for Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, said her organization works to limit unplanned pregnancies.
"We just feel like this is very good news," Lewis said. "We work every day to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion, and so the fact that the numbers of abortions are decreasing is good news for everybody."
Mary Ann Kuharski, director of Prolife Across America, credits information provided by her organization, which puts up about 6,500 billboards per year in 41 states. Each billboard placed by the Minnesota-based organization includes a hotline for women to call if they want information about abortion alternatives.
Callers to the donation-funded billboard crisis line often cite two reasons for why they don't want to have an abortion, Kuharski said:
• They've had one before and were affected emotionally.
• A sister, boyfriend, college roommate or other acquaintance has had an abortion and discourages others from having one.
"We're getting more and more young people like that who reject the concept of abortion," Kuharski said.
Lewis believes preventive care and education might be leading to the decrease in abortions.
"We do feel like access to basic preventive health care is really essential, and that the number of unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion is reduced when people have access to affordable contraceptives — and that is what we're all about," she said.
"We know that family planning programs work. We know that they save money and they're critical to preventive health care," Lewis said.
Access to those services, regardless of ability to pay, is a primary focus of Planned Parenthood, she said.
But Planned Parenthood also offers abortions, and recently extended that service to its clinic in Rochester.
"In recent months, we have begun providing a limited number of medicinal abortions at the Rochester clinic," Lewis said, "and the reason is to make access more available to rural women in southern Minnesota. But, again, our primary focus is on prevention, and more than 95 percent of what we do is provide preventive and primary health care."
That care can include cancer screenings, birth control, prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, breast health services, sexual health information and Pap tests, she said.