- Associated Press - Sunday, June 7, 2015

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - The number of abortions performed annually in New England is declining, according to an Associated Press data analysis, echoing a nationwide trend. But at least two groups attribute the drop to different factors.

Rhode Island and Connecticut have seen the most significant decreases since 2010. The number of abortions in Rhode Island between 2010 and 2013 decreased from 4,181 to 3,251, according to data compiled by the AP. That represents a 22.2 percent drop, the highest in the region. In Connecticut, the number of abortions between 2010 and 2014 decreased from 13,438 to 10,629 - a 20.9 percent drop.

Meanwhile, abortions in Maine between 2010 and 2014 dropped 12.6 percent, while abortions in Vermont and Massachusetts between 2010 and 2013 dropped 8.7 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively. New Hampshire does not compile comprehensive abortion data.

The AP compared the most recent numbers - mostly from 2013 or 2014 - to 2010, the year before legislative efforts intensified in many states to enact new restrictions affecting access to abortion.

Judy Tabar, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, said accessible, effective birth control and comprehensive sex education programs are the most important factors in reducing the need for abortion.

She said the drop in abortions in Connecticut, Rhode Island and elsewhere is due in large part to provisions in the federal Affordable Care Act which enable women to access contraception without a co-payment.

“When birth control is affordable, women are more likely to choose the most effective method,” she said, citing IUDs and hormonal implants.

“In Rhode Island and Connecticut, this has been a major benefit,” she said. “We’re going to continue to see these numbers go down.”

But Barth Bracy, executive director of Rhode Island Right to Life, said he thinks teenagers and young adults are more anti-abortion than previous generations, something he attributes to more frequent ultrasounds.

“They know today what we didn’t know 20 or 30 years ago, when ultrasounds were less available and less common,” Bracy said. “There’s a greater sense of awareness about the unborn child, so I believe that has a significant amount of influence on it.”

The AP compiled data on abortion rates from health departments in 45 U.S. states that keep such information on a comprehensive basis. It shows the annual number of abortions has declined substantially since 2010 in most states.

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