MINNEAPOLIS — The number of abortions performed in Minnesota has dropped again.
Figures released Monday by the Minnesota Department of Health show the number of abortions performed in Minnesota dropped from more than 11,000 in 2011 to about 10,700 in 2012.
And the number of abortions involving Minnesota teenagers has fallen by almost half over the past five years, the annual report showed. The state recorded 1,229 abortions involving women 19 and younger last year, down from 2,137 in 2007. The decline in teen abortions was responsible for about half of that trend.
Opponents and supporters of abortion rights agreed the report contained good news but disagreed on why the numbers are declining.
Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life spokesman Bill Poehler said the decline indicates that more women are turning away from abortion and are choosing to give birth. He said today's youth are more anti-abortion than their parents because they have a better understanding about fetal development and fetal pain.
"They're aware this is not just a mass of cells," he said. "It's a human life at its early stages of development."
But Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, credited better access to effective birth control.
While Minnesota has now reported historic or near-historic lows for teen pregnancies, teen births and teen abortions, the state has separately gathered survey information showing that high school students are more sexually active than they were five years ago.
Increased access to birth control pills for young women might explain why abortions are down but sex is up, said Judith Kahn, executive director of Teenwise Minnesota, which seeks to prevent teen pregnancies. Kahn also credited the increase of comprehensive sex education programs in schools, which teach about birth control and abstinence, but also show teens how having unprotected sex could disrupt their life goals.
"We know when young people have a sense of their own future, and that they can get to that future, they make fewer decisions that can get in the way," she said.