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Pro-life educational campaigns, pregnancy-care centers, and state and federal laws — especially ones that show “the humanity of the unborn child” — could also be playing a role in lowering the abortion rate, said Randall O’Bannon, director of education and research at the National Right to Life.

Rachel Jones, senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute, noted that the national abortion rate had stalled for several years, so the resumption of its long-term decline in 2009 was new. In February, she added, Guttmacher will release a comprehensive, national report on abortion, which will include data through 2011.