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Illinois abortions at record low

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1984 -- Based on 9.5 months of data
1985-1986 -- Illinois Department of Public Health was prohibited from mandating abortion reporting because of a temporary restraining order issued in 1984. These numbers were compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
1987-1992 -- In 1987, Centers for Disease Control turned over yearly voluntary surveys of facilities to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
1993 -- No data collected.
1994 -- Although mandatory reporting resumed in 1994, the data are considered incomplete because facilities were notified during the middle of the year.

Updated: February 26, 2012 8:03AM



Abortions reported in Illinois reached a 37-year low in 2010, a drop that abortion opponents attributed to more women shying away from the procedure while abortion-rights supporters pointed to an uptick in use of contraceptives.

In 2010, there were 41,859 abortions in Illinois, according to recently published data from the state Department of Public Health .

That’s the lowest total since 1973, when Illinois recorded 32,760 abortions. That’s the year the procedure was legalized in the United States in the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Carole Brite, president of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said her organization was pleased to learn about the decrease but it was “hard to know for sure” what caused it. She said between 2009 and 2010, her organization doubled its distribution of contraceptives such as intrauterine devices and Implanon — a small rod placed under the skin that blocks pregnancy.

“I think more and more providers have become aware and knowledgeable of these methods and are recommending them to their patients,” Brite said.

She said the number of women who enrolled in Illinois Healthy Women, a state program that covers reproductive health care for financially needy women, also increased by more than 25 percent during that time frame and that a tough economy meant more women were eligible for the benefits.

Bill Beckman, executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee, said participation in anti-abortion rallies has increased in the last few years, and that the decline may reflect a national shift in perception of abortion.

“Certainly it seems like the level of people willing to be active in some way or another could be seen as increasing,” he said. “I think that overall, just the public mind-set of abortion is changing and that’s having an impact on people being more reluctant to make that choice.”

The 2010 figure was down from 46,077 in 2009, a 9 percent decrease, state records showed. Procedures in Cook County decreased 1,356, from 25,196 in 2009 to 23,840 in 2010. The number of abortions for non-Illinois residents decreased from 3,624 to 3,050.

Abortions among Illinois minors — age 17 and under — dropped from 2,991 to 2,725. An unenforced 1995 Illinois law that requires physicians to notify a minor’s parent or guardian before performing an abortion is pending a ruling from the Illinois Supreme Court.

The 2010 numbers dropped across all age groups in Illinois.

Nationwide, the number of abortions dropped 8 percent between 2000 and 2008, the most recent year with complete statistics available to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit reproductive health and abortion rights group based in New York. In 2008, 1.21 million abortions were reported in the United States , according to Guttmacher.

Rachel Jones, a senior research associate at Guttmacher, said the institute needs more information from other states to know whether the drop in Illinois is in line with the rest of the country in more recent years. Questions remain about whether Illinois’ tally of abortions captures the full picture because the state has documented several thousand fewer abortions a year than Guttmacher. In 2008, for example, the institute recorded 54,920 abortions in Illinois, while the state’s health department recorded 47,717.

Tom Schafer, deputy director of the state’s Office of Health Promotion, said Guttmacher has more time and leeway when an abortion provider is unresponsive. “I don’t want to question the accuracy of their numbers, but we don’t have the ability to estimate,” Schafer said. “We count actual procedures as reported to us.” He said the state counts abortions performed at about 26 facilities, in addition to those performed by between 95 and 140 individual physicians. He acknowledged that providers don’t always report all of their numbers.



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