The number of abortions in Minnesota remained at a near-record low last year, falling below 10,000 for a second consecutive year.
The 9,922 abortions in 2019 were up insignificantly from 2018, continuing a general decline that's occurred over nearly 40 years, according to the annual report from the Minnesota Department of Health. During that period, it was the fourth time the number of abortions fell below 10,000, compared with a peak of 19,028 in 1980.
In 2018, the number of nonresident abortions jumped by more than 1,000 over the previous year. It was the first time since 1992 that nonresidents received more than 10% of the abortions in the state. But in 2019, the 888 nonresidents who received abortions dipped below the numbers in 2017.
Of those nonresidents, most came from Wisconsin.
Most women who got abortions in 2019 were 20 to 39 years old, with those younger than that accounting for a fraction of the total. Of those 19 years or younger, 849 women received abortions in 2019 compared with 809 in 2018.
Those on both sides of the abortion issue took heart that abortion numbers once again dipped below 10,000.
From the perspective of those at Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the abortion total has remained mostly steady after falling seven years from 2006 to 2013 in part because of its efforts, such as pregnancy care centers, education efforts and laws like the Woman's Right to Know informed consent law.
Planned Parenthood leaders attribute the general decline in abortions to increased access to affordable contraception, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that required that contraception be covered without a copay.
"It's an indication of the importance of having access to birth control," said Lauren Gilchrist, an executive vice president for the North Central States chapter that covers five states, including Minnesota.
But she said, her organization is concerned that the Trump administration is chipping away at keeping affordable contraception accessible. Last year, the administration blocked federal Title X family planning funds from going to any organization that provides abortions.
That meant a loss of $2.7 million in federal funds that provided affordable family planning services for 53,000 women and men in Minnesota.
"We've had to move to donor support to ensure we can provide affordable contraception rather than rely on consistent support from the federal government," Gilchrist said.
Her organization is now anxiously waiting on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that challenges contraceptive coverage under the ACA.
"The Trump administration proposed new rules that would give employers broad latitude in whether they cover contraception under the ACA," Gilchrist said. "We're constantly in an ongoing fight not just to protect legal abortion but access to affordable contraception."
Meanwhile, MCCL is concerned about the outcome of a lawsuit filed in Ramsey County that challenges abortion restrictions, including parental notice for minors seeking to terminate pregnancies.
"Minnesota's existing laws help empower women," Scott Fischbach, MCCL's executive director, said in a written statement. "They are reasonable and commonsense protections that are entirely constitutional. They should be upheld in court."
Mary Lynn Smith • 612-673-4788