Abortions Fall 25 Percent

A new study says the number of abortions has dropped 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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BILL WOLFF (Announcer): From NPR News in New York, this is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT.

(Soundbite of music)

MIKE PESCA, host:

This is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT. We are news. We are information. We are addicted to caffeinated beverages. We are Marshall.

Hi, I'm Mike Pesca.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

And I am Rachel Martin.

It is Thursday, January 17th, the year 2008.

PESCA: Rachel, let me collect my thoughts for a second. And speaking of collecting - which is called a manufactured segue - do you collect?

MARTIN: I collect dust bunnies in the corner of my dirty apartment.

PESCA: Because we will be talking to a collector later on. I was thinking about my collections. I let my wife do the collecting for me. She has, like those bottle openers that are shaped like people. If you've never seen them, they're scary.

MARTIN: No.

PESCA: But there are certain items that even a non-collector always kind of values. I don't know. For some people, its concert tickets. Like, they just wind up…

MARTIN: The stubs?

PESCA: Yeah. They wind up sitting in my wallet longer than they are useful for.

MARTIN: What do you think you're going to do with them even…

PESCA: Nothing. Throw them out later.

MARTIN: …two hours later?

PESCA: Yeah, exactly, just, remember, you know, remember the joy that Fleetwood Mac gave me.

MARTIN: Just be…

PESCA: And the other big thing is play bills, you know, from a Broadway show, because a lot of people who collect those. And I just feel like I keep them around the house longer. I'm going to go throw them out anyway, but I feel like I owe it to the theater.

MARTIN: I did that with my Economist.

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PESCA: What's his name?

MARTIN: I wish. No.

PESCA: Oh, the newspaper, I see.

MARTIN: No. Thank God, it was a magazine. I read, you know, I read the first story, and then I leave the - read the obituaries, and then it sits on my coffee table…

PESCA: Right.

MARTIN: …collecting dust.

PESCA: So what they're saying now, and what they said before they died.

MARTIN: Exactly.

PESCA: It's called book-ending. Yes.

MARTIN: Mm-hmm.

PESCA: Next on our show, the differences between the presidential candidates' economic plans, which begs the question - as we know the phrase isn't - are there a differences? And if there are, could you even understand what they are?

MARTIN: And Mary Kay. You know Mary Kay, the pink Cadillac?

PESCA: Uh-huh.

MARTIN: We had them in my neighborhood growing up. So apparently, the cosmetics company is trying to make inroads into the Hispanic community in L.A. and women are deciding to buy the make-up over basic necessities. It's a pretty interesting story. We'll rip it off from the headlines of the L.A. Times.

PESCA: Yes. When you said interesting, I said to myself, how could we come up with that? I see. Someone else did the work for us.

An our occasional series on extreme hobbies continues with Jordan Wright. He's the collector. He's gaga for campaign memorabilia - presidential campaign memorabilia, in particular. Knee socks from the Eisenhower campaign - we've got those. And Rachel Martin has the day's news, but first here's the BPP's Big Story.

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MARTIN: 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. Today, it's closer to one in five.

PESCA: That statistic is from the Guttmacher Institute, a New York based non-profit organization that resources - 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, and is often recognized even by abortion proponents - opponents.

MARTIN: Today's report is the first new comprehensive data on the topic in five years, and these are statistics from 2005 - the most recent year available. And it comes just five days before the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

PESCA: 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.

MARTIN: Now the report does not offer a reason why abortions continue to decline. Rachel Jones, an author of the study, tells Newsweek magazine that many factors could be at play here. More access to birth control, less access to abortion clinics, emergency contraception options like plan B, or simply that more women are deciding against abortion.

PESCA: 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, each side essentially saying, see, this proves what I've been saying all along.

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

MARTIN: And on the other side, Plan Parenthood president Ms. Cecile Richards, points to a different type of education: sex education and birth control. She says the study shows that, quote, "Prevention works."

PESCA: That's THE BPP's Big Story.

And now I have to search for this newscaster I've been hearing so much about. There she is - Rachel Martin, with even more news.

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