Abortions in county, state drop in 2009

Published 2:31 pm Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fewer Mower County women are choosing to have abortions, according to a report released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Health.

The number of women in the county who had abortions dropped from 63 in 2008 to 51 in 2009, reflecting a greater trend seen throughout the state. Abortions in Minnesota dropped from 12, 948 in 2008 to 12,388 in 2009— a 33 year low. The number of abortions performed in Minnesota has been on a steady decline since 2006, when state providers documented 14,065 induced abortions. From there, the number has steadily dwindled. In 2007, 13,843 abortions were reported, followed by 12,948 in 2008.

However, Mower County wasn’t on track with the state in 2008, when abortion rates climbed from 37 in 2007 to 63 in 2008 — a 70 percent increase.

News this year that abortions in the county are making their way back down is encouraging for those who work closely with area pregnancy centers.

“It’s good news, it’s hopeful news,” said Tammy Peterson, a Catholic Charities pregnancy parenting and adoption social worker.

Peterson, who works with pregnancy centers in southern Minnesota, said she hopes the statistics are a reflection of the work the organization has done over the years. Since 2006, the organization has received the Positive Alternatives grant through the Department of Human Services. The extra funding has allowed Catholic Charities to reach out to a growing number of women who are looking for pregnancy-related services.

“We hope that it’s about more awareness and knowing there’s more services available,” Peterson said. “A lot of times we see women who are at a crisis and they just need to know the resources available.”

That’s consistently been the goal of pregnancy centers throughout the state, including those that provide abortion referrals for patients.

For centers like Planned Parenthood, the decline is positive news.

“That’s our focus. Preventing the need for abortions drives our legislative workers, it drives the work of our health care centers and our educators throughout the state. Nine-five percent of what we do is prevention,” said Kathi Di Nicole, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood in Minnesota.

Though the new statistics are good news for those working to lower abortion rates, it’s difficult for some to celebrate a decline. For Kim Grage, director of Austin’s Birthright, the news of the decline is encouraging, but it’s not enough.

“For me, it’s still a lot. To me, any is too much,” Grage said.

Figures relating to Mower County only track the number of women who resided in the county at the time of the abortion — it does not mean the abortions were performed in the county. Austin Medical Center, Austin’s only hospital, does not provide abortion services.

Abortion rates

The number of Mower County residents who had abortions in 2009

2009 – 51

2008 – 63

2007 – 37

2006 – 61

2005 – 50

2004 – 63

2003 – 47

2002 – 62

2001 – 63

2000 – 49

Abortions performed in Minnesota in 2009

2009 – 12,388

2008 – 12,948

2007 – 13,843

2006 – 14,065

2005 – 13,365

2004 – 13,788

2003 – 14, 174

2002 – 14, 239

2001 – 14, 833

2000 – 14, 477