NEW YORK—The New York City abortion rate, one of the highest in the country, dropped significantly between 2011 and 2012, according to newly released data from the city.
In 2012, 37 percent of pregnancies ended in abortion in New York City, compared to 40 percent in 2011, continuing a downward trend. According to the Chiaroscuro Foundation, a pro-life group that analyzes the annual abortion data from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, this represents the lowest abortion rate since New York legalized abortion in 1970.
The city had about 7,000 fewer abortions in 2012 compared to 2011, a drop to 73,815 total abortions for the year.
“We are so happy to see that the percentage of abortion has been reduced,” said Tanya Bishai, vice president of advancement at Midtown Pregnancy Support Center (MPSC) in Manhattan. “We have a ways to go.”
The number of abortions has gone down nationally over the last few years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute. Some abortion advocates explained the decrease partly as a result of contraception and partly as a result of the proliferation of new state restrictions on abortion. But increased state restrictions don’t explain New York’s drop in abortion. No abortion laws have changed in New York.
In fact, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been pushing for the state legislature to loosen current restrictions, allowing abortion at any point in a pregnancy to protect the mother’s life or health, including emotional well-being. In a city where abortion is currently legal up until 24 weeks gestation, 1,832 pregnancies were terminated after 21 weeks.
“Women have access to abortion providers in our city … you don’t have difficulty having access,” said Bishai. Her explanation for the drop: “Women are finding networks of care like us.” MPSC saw the number of its clients double in 2013, and its staff foresees the number of clients will double again this year. MPSC plans to meet with 1,100 women this year. It is one of the city’s only pregnancy centers that offers in-house sonograms.
The city data on abortion helps pregnancy centers know which demographics are most likely to have abortions. The abortion rate is highest among African American women, and is geographically highest in the Bronx, where 47 percent of pregnancies end in abortion. MPSC hopes to open more centers in other neighborhoods in the city during the next few years.