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Number of abortions plummets in Minnesota

ST. PAUL — The number of abortions has declined for the fourth consecutive year in Minnesota, hitting what may be a record low.

Physicians performed 11,505 abortions in 2010, down 7 percent from a year earlier, the Minnesota Department of Health reported.

Groups for and against abortion both claimed credit.

"We think it's really because of the access to affordable birth control," said Tim Stanley, spokesman for Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. The agency was the largest provider of abortions in the state last year and also offers contraceptives to patients.

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life attributed part of the decline to state support for a program called Positive Alternatives, which promotes alternatives to abortion such as adoption. The organization, which opposes abortion, said more than 25,000 women statewide were helped by the program between July 2006 and June 2010.

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"This is the lowest abortion rate ever reported in Minnesota, so that's a big deal," said Scott Fischbach, executive director of MCCL.

Health officials say the rate of abortions in 2010 may be an all-time low with 10.1 procedures per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44. It rivals a rate of 10.3 per 1,000 women in Minnesota set in 1975, when the state initially began collecting data. The most recent rate is based on a 2009 population estimate, which could change once the 2010 population figure is available, according to state health officials.

Fischbach noted that the number of teens getting abortions in 2010 dropped by nearly 17 percent compared with 2009. Last year, 482 girls age 17 and younger got abortions, compared with 579 the year before.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press said that of all women who had abortions in 2010, 3,727 cited economic reasons for having the procedure. That number has steadily declined since 2007, when more than 40 percent of women referenced economic factors in their decisions to have abortions.

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