The number of women having an abortion in the US has fallen to its lowest levels since it was decriminalised by Roe vs Wade in 1973, according to a new report.
The report by the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute said that abortion numbers among women aged 15 to 44 had fallen to 13.5 per 1,000 women in 2017. The Guttmacher Institute said this was the "lowest rate recorded since abortion was legalized in 1973".
Figures also showed that the total number of abortions each year in the US dropped by 19 per cent from the 1,058,000 performed in 2011 to 862,000 carried out in 2017.
The number of pregnancies ending in abortion or live birth was found to have fallen by 13 per cent, from 21.2 per 100 pregnancies to 18.4.
The study was based on data from the Guttmacher Institute's own census of abortion providers.
The institute said it was possible that "contraceptive access and use" could explain some of the figures, with the number of women using long-term reversible contraceptive methods increasing after 2014, especially among women in their 20s.
It also contended that state regulations and abortion clinic closures played into the numbers.
"[N]early every state had a lower abortion rate in 2017 than in 2011, regardless of whether it had restricted abortion access," it said.
It continued: "There are a number of potential explanations for this broad decline, some more plausible than others.
"Still, abortion restrictions, particularly those imposing unnecessary, intentionally burdensome regulations on providers, played a role in shutting down abortion clinics in some states and thereby reducing access to abortion."
Melanie Israel, of the Heritage Foundation's DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, disagreed with the institute's analysis of the findings.
"Guttmacher's analysis of the declining abortion rate takes great pains to de-emphasize, erroneously, the impact of state-level pro-life legislation. Instead, Guttmacher emphasizes possible factors such as Obamacare's contraception mandate," she said in an op-ed.
"But do contraception mandates actually lower rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion? Not so fast."