- Associated Press - Thursday, August 11, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota saw the fewest number of abortions in 2015 since record-keeping began in 1981, a drop the director of the state’s lone abortion clinic said Thursday can be attributed to more effective birth-control options and increased insurance coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act.

There were 1,166 abortions in North Dakota last year, down from 1,264 in 2014, according to state Health Department data. The state recorded 2,554 abortions in 1981 and a record 3,076 the following year.

Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Red River Women’s Clinic in downtown Fargo, said the drop mirrors national trends, as abortions have declined in nearly every state since 2010.

“There is better access and better methods of birth control,” she said, adding that the use of long-lasting, low-cost contraception options that the clinic provides, such as IUDs and hormonal implants, has increased over the past several years.

“Every woman walking through our door is not having an abortion,” Kromenaker said. “We very actively help woman access the most affordable and effective methods of birth control. We feel that is part of our mission.”

But abortion opponents aren’t convinced that’s the reason for the drop in the number of procedures.

“We and people in other states are educating women on other options, so they don’t have to have an abortion,” said Medora Nagle, executive director of North Dakota Right to Life, which bills itself as the oldest and largest anti-abortion group in the state. “I don’t think a lot of people know the (abortion) process or the effects afterward.”

North Dakota’s previous low for abortions was 1,182 in 2013, the year the state’s Republican-led Legislature passed a spate of anti-abortion abortion laws, most of which have been overturned in the courts.

Kromenaker said the 12 percent drop in 2013 was in part due to the legislation.

“We heard anecdotally that some women thought we were closed,” she said.

North Dakota females accounted for 822 of last year’s total abortions, according to health Department data, while 280 were from Minnesota, 55 from South Dakota and nine from other states.

Women ages 20-24 accounted for most abortions in North Dakota last year at 395, followed 289 for ages 25-29. Teen abortions accounted for 113 abortions last year - the lowest number in all age groups except women over 40, with 36.

The health department said 974 of the women who had abortions last year were not married. More than half of the woman who had abortions had at least one living child, and most have at least a high school education, data show.

The Fargo clinic opened in 1998, and became the state’s sole abortion provider in 2001.

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