- The Washington Times - Monday, December 19, 2005

ATLANTA (AP) — More American women are having babies they didn’t want, a survey indicates, but federal researchers say they don’t know whether that means attitudes about abortion are changing.

Among U.S. women of childbearing age who were surveyed in 2002, 14 percent of recent births were unwanted at the time of conception, federal researchers said yesterday.

In a similar 1995 survey, 9 percent were unwanted at the time of conception.

At least one group said the numbers reflect a national “pro-life shift,” while others who research reproductive health issues suggested the figures might mean less access to abortion services.

The latest findings are consistent with the falling rate of abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a New York-based nonprofit group that researches reproductive health issues.

In 1995, for every 100 pregnancies that ended in abortion or birth, almost 26 ended in abortion. In 2002, 24 ended in abortion, according to Guttmacher data. That trend mirrors the data released yesterday.

“The two statistics together suggest — but don’t confirm — that a greater percentage of unintended pregnancies resulted in births rather than abortions,” said Lawrence Finer, Guttmacher’s associate director for domestic research.

The Guttmacher Institute is nearly finished with a study of that question, but Mr. Finer declined to discuss the results before they’ve been published.

Others feel the link is clear-cut.

“I don’t think there’s any mystery here,” said Susan Wills, of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The new data underscores that more women are turning away from abortions, even when it’s a pregnancy they initially don’t want, said Miss Wills, associate director for education in the conference’s Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.

“It shows a real pro-life shift,” she said.

More women might be carrying pregnancies to term because of increasing availability of ultrasounds and other information that show “it’s a baby from an early time,” Miss Wills said.

The new data was released by the National Center for Health Statistics, which surveyed 7,643 U.S. women on family planning and reproductive health issues in 2002 and early 2003. The surveyed women were between 15 and 44.

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