July 2, 2008 -- ST. PAUL (AP) -- Many women who got abortions last year say the worsening economy was one of the reasons for their decision.
There were 13,843 abortions performed in Minnesota in 2007. Of the women who listed a reason for their abortions, 40 percent cited economic concerns -- that's the largest share since the state started collecting detailed abortion information a decade ago, according to the state's annual abortion report.
"Certainly, women's concerns about being able to support their families are important," said Sarah Stoesz, executive director of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota.
The cost of birth control may be another concern in a tightening economy, she said, and could lead to unplanned pregnancies.
Women can list more than one reason for an abortion. The most common reason cited was that a woman did not want children at this time (10,190.) Other reasons included already being a single parent (1,024) and unfulfilled educational goals (886). Ninety-eight women cited rape or incest.
Abortions in Minnesota declined 1.5 percent last year, after an increase in 2006. The 2006 numbers showed a 5 percent increase overall and a 16 percent increase among teens 17 and younger.
This year, the number of abortions among teens 17 and younger declined, but the number of abortions among 18- and 19-year olds increased. The net effect was just four fewer teen procedures in 2007.
Stoesz said the 2006 increase was a statistical anomaly, and the 2007 decline was a continuation of a decades-long trend that has come with the increased use of birth control. The economic challenge in the future, she said, will be keeping birth control affordable and accessible.
Abortion opponents interpret the statistics differently. Scott Fischbach, executive director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, said the 2006 increase was a problem - corrected in 2007 with $2.4 million in state funding for programs promoting abortion alternatives.
Considering the increase in economic concerns, he recommends more funding for alternatives, including programs that provide women with housing, education and adoption planning.
"In so doing," he said, "we believe that the mothers and their babies will flourish."
Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)