Media Ignores What is Likely Driving Minnesota’s Abortion Decline

Last week, the Associated Press reported that the number of abortions performed in Minnesota declined by about 3 percent in 2012. The reaction was pretty predictable. A spokesman for Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life said that young people are more pro-life because they have a better understanding of fetal development and fetal pain. A representative of Planned Parenthood said that better access to birth control was responsible for Minnesota’s abortion decline.

Screen shot 2013-07-09 at 11.32.39 AMWhile it is heartening to see the Associated Press grant some coverage to abortion trends, they once again missed the big picture. A three percent year –over-year decline in the number of abortions performed is not especially newsworthy.

However, what is newsworthy is the fact that according to the Minnesota Department of Health, the number of abortions performed in Minnesota has declined each of the past 6 years. Furthermore, the number of abortions performed in Minnesota has declined by 24 percent since 2003.

Indeed, a long-term look at abortion trends in Minnesota reveals some important lessons about the impact of public policy on the incidence of abortion. On June 16, 1994 a state district court ruled that Minnesota had to publicly fund therapeutic abortions for low income women through Medicaid. This court decision had a substantial impact on the incidence of abortion in Minnesota. There is a very broad body of academic research which shows that public funding for abortions increases abortion rates. Indeed, while nearly every other state saw its abortion numbers decrease during the mid to late 1990s, Minnesota actually saw its abortion rate increase between 1994 and 2000.

However, eventually the tide turned. Minnesota still publicly funds abortions for low-income women through Medicaid. However, in 2003 Governor Tim Pawlenty signed a revamped informed consent law. This law is based on the Pennsylvania law the Supreme Court upheld in its 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision which gives women the opportunity to view color photos of fetal development before submitting to an abortion. In 2005 Governor Pawlenty included $2.5 million in his budget for pregnancy resource centers. These policy changes likely played a key role in Minnesota’s long term abortion decline.

Overall, it is hard to say what caused a 3 percent decline in abortions in Minnesota in 2012. However a long term view of abortion trends, provides good evidence of both the impact of pro-life laws and the progress that the pro-life movement has made — progress that the mainstream media unfortunately all too often chooses to ignore.


Categories:Abortion Media Pro-Life

  • Steve Hansmann

    Yes, I suppose it could be the many lies under tiny timmy’s administration under Minnesota public health like abortions cause cancer. What a joke. Minnesota’s abortion declined because it’s the crown jewel in the union; educated,progressive, prosperous, and not religiously insane. Nothing more, or less.

  • Dave Thomas

    Is the number of live births in Minnesota declining as well? If there are fewer pregnancies it would stand to reason there would be fewer abortions.

  • Mike

    It seems to me that one of the keys to this reduction in Minnesota abortions was the increase in funding for pregnancy resource centers under Governor Pawlentry, which holds an important lesson for pro-life advocates everywhere. One of the most effective ways to decrease the amount of abortions, as well as support some of the most needy among us, is by making more resources available to women who do choose to carry out their pregnancy and give birth to their child. If we can find ways to increase programs that support these people in difficult situations, not only will this result in more unborn lives being save, but is something bipartisan that I think everyone, pro-life or otherwise, can support.

  • Susan

    Good news, may the rest of the country follow suite.

  • Bill Poehler

    Thank you for writing about Minnesota’s abortion report, Dr. New. MCCL did a thorough analysis of the report and the trends it indicates. Our two July 1 news releases can be found on our RSS feed here: These should help round out understanding of why abortion numbers are in decline in the state.

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