Abortions Down 25 Percent

A new study says the number of abortions has falled by a quarter from an all-time high in 1990. The research was conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, a New York-based nonprofit that focuses on reproductive issues.

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MIKE PESCA, host:

This is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT - news, information, a salve for your chapped news soul. Well, some people get the salve. We separate them between the salves and salve-nots.

I'm Mike Pesca, in for Alison Stewart. She is in Utah for the Sundance Film Festival. And we'll be broadcasting live from Utah tomorrow. And alongside with me today is Rachel Martin, pulling double duty.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

Hey, Mike. Hello.

PESCA: How are you doing?

MARTIN: It is Thursday, January 17th, 2008.

PESCA: I saw a day ago, Mister - Monsieur Barack Obama in the…

MARTIN: I heard of him.

PESCA: …Democratic debate that was held in Nevada, or Nevada. They get bad -they get really mad if you pronounce it wrong.

MARTIN: I know.

PESCA: So I pronounce it both ways…

MARTIN: Okay.

PESCA: …to make sure I'm definitely protected. So I thought there was a real public radio moment where he was asked - the question was asked to all the candidates, when did you decide to run? And he - and Obama was talking a little bit about his decision.

And here's some what he said.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Democratic Presidential Candidate): And because my wife is extraordinary and my children are above average, I figured they could manage it.

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PESCA: Okay. Now, am I wrong? I mean, that whole phrase about the children being above average, that's Garrison Keillor. That's "Prairie Home Companion," right?

MARTIN: Okay. I know you think that because that's our world. But I wouldn't necessarily - that's the first place people are going to go in their heads. We should explain, too. I mean, this is the catchphrase that Garrison Keillor uses on "Prairie Home Companion" all the time.

PESCA: Yeah. Up in Lake Wobegon all the children are above average. But whenever I see it referenced, they always say, as Garrison Keillor says, the children - now, why did they laugh? Did those people laugh because they're Garrison Keillor fans or listeners?

MARTIN: No. I think they laughed because it's kind of funny to say your kids are above average, when clearly that's a self-deprecating remark, and his children are probably child geniuses.

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PESCA: Right. Above…

MARTIN: I don't know.

PESCA: I don't know. Maybe I over-public-radio thought about it. But I'm going - I think we should count it.

MARTIN: We'll stick with that. I like it. We'll - yeah.

PESCA: Yeah. We're going to count that as a reference to our world as a way of the life.

MARTIN: To us, mm-hmm.

PESCA: And coming up on our immediate world, a woman who witnessed this week's suicide bombing in Kabul tells us her story, and she says it changed her life.

MARTIN: We also have the maker of Brawndo.

PESCA: Brawndo.

MARTIN: It kills me. It's a new energy drink that went from fiction to fact.

PESCA: And kids in Alaska protesting a mine. We hear from them, their teacher and the folks from the mine.

Rachel Martin will have the news in just a minute.

But first, we bring you the BPP's Big Story.

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PESCA: America's abortion rate is at its lowest in 34 years, with 19 percent of pregnancies ending in abortion. That figure peaked in the early 1980s, when almost one in three pregnancies in the U.S. ended in abortion. And today, it's closer to one in five.

MARTIN: That's according to research out today from the Guttmacher Institute, a New York-based nonprofit organization that researches sexual and reproductive health issues.

Even though the Guttmacher Institute supports abortion rights, it's considered the nation's best source of abortion statistics by many abortion opponents.

PESCA: Today's report is the first new comprehensive data on the topic in five years, and it uses statistics from 2005, which is the most recent year available. It comes just five days before the 35th anniversary of Roe versus Wade.

MARTIN: The report also says that while there is a decline, medical abortions are on the rise as a percentage of overall abortions. Medical abortion involves the drug RU-486 instead of surgery.

PESCA: The report doesn't offer a reason why abortions continue to decline. Rachel Jones, who authored the study, tells Newsweek magazine that many factors could be at play. Among them: more access to birth control, less access to abortion clinics, emergency contraception options like Plan B, or it could simply be that more women are deciding against abortion.

MARTIN: But while the study doesn't take a position on what caused the decline, people on both sides of the abortion debate are offering theories.

Randall O'Bannon, director of education and research for National Right to Life, says, quote, "This data tells you that attitudes have changed," end quote.

PESCA: And in the Rorschach test studies that is findings like this, you have the Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards pointing to a different type of education - sex education and birth control. She says the study shows that, quote, "prevention works."

So that's the BPP's Big Story. And now here's Rachel Martin with even more news.

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