Planned Parenthood’s report for the 2018-2019 fiscal year is here and it contains some eye-popping stats. The organization recorded 345,672 abortions over the year — up from 332,757 in 2017-18 and 321,384 in 2016-17, making this the highest number reported since it started keeping track in the 2000-2001 fiscal year.
This news comes as aggressive, highly publicized attempts at new regulation that would limit abortion access stumbled, with 70 percent of the over 300 anti-abortion bills being either defeated or kicked down the road. Nevertheless, the abortion rate in the U.S. continues the long, steady decline that began at the procedure’s peak in 1980.
Today, the abortion rate stands at about 13.5 out of every 1000 women in the U.S. About 60 percent of that decline has actually taken place in states that haven’t had any new abortion restricting regulations or even seen abortion access increase, like New York and California. Meanwhile, several states that did successfully pass new restrictions, like Mississippi, saw an increase in abortion.
All of this means that the conversation around abortion needs new nuance. Any attempt to explain the declining abortion rate veers into pure speculation, but it doesn’t appear to be as simple as passing fresh legislation.
In any case, roughly 40 percent of all abortions happen at a Planned Parenthood in the U.S., but the group still claims that abortions only make up about five percent of its overall services provided (a claim that, while technically true, plays squishy with the financial reality).
That large market share is why the idea of defunding Planned Parenthood has been such a prized target of anti-abortion activists for so many years. While about a third of PP’s overall budget is government-provided, the Hyde Amendment bars the group from using any of that money for abortion services. Even so, many groups depict Planned Parenthood as something of a final boss in their quest to overturn Roe V. Wade, and numbers like the ones in their most recent report are part of the reason why.