A massive new study shows how to reduce abortions — and it's not more regulation.

Abortion rates in the United States just reached a record low, dropping below a million per year for the first time since Roe v. Wade.

That information comes from a new study by the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization committed to sexual and reproductive health. It's fair to say a hallmark reduction in any medical procedure is generally a good thing.

While the majority of Americans do support a woman’s right to choose, the topic of abortion remains contentious — which makes it even more monumental that both pro-choice and anti-abortion groups alike are celebrating this news.


There are a lot of other important revelations in the Guttmacher’s massive data-crunch too. Even if you’re not particularly impassioned about the abortion debate, the study proves the importance of looking at the bigger picture.

Probably the only time where this bipartisan photo is appropriate. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

According to the researchers, "No strong evidence exists that restrictions [against abortion] were the main factor behind the decline in abortion."

The study found that some states, particularly in the Northeast, were actually more successful at reducing the abortion rate by opening additional clinics and making abortions easier to get overall. But there were some situations, like in Texas, where forcing women to endure humiliating and convoluted processes and procedures did appear to translate to a sharp decline in the abortion rate. Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws weren't as successful in other states, such as North Carolina and Mississippi, and even led to slight increases in abortions, according to Guttmacher.

That's why big studies like these are so important: Instead of drawing their conclusions from a few highly specific circumstances, they allow us to zoom out and see the bigger picture, with all the different factors involved across state lines. In this case, it became clear there’s just no way to conclude whether abortion restrictions actually accomplish anything other than making people’s lives more difficult.

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

Restricting abortion access also has the potential to put more lives at risk when women seek alternatives, and that’s definitely not a good thing.

Abortion access is notably hardest to come by in southern and Midwestern states — they tend to have more legal hoops for women to jump through as well as restrictions on facilities. While the official data is scarce, reports from Reuters, The Atlantic, and The New York Times suggest that limitations like these have led to an increase in do-it-yourself abortions. And according to the Guttmacher study, medical facilities in southern and Midwestern states were also more likely on average to treat people who had already tried to self-induce an abortion.

Less than a decade before Roe v. Wade, illegal abortion procedures reportedly accounted for 17% of maternal deaths, though the amount of unreported cases could have made that number even higher. As of 2013, just 1 in 5 pregnancies end in abortion — but the vast majority of those women remain alive to tell about it, thanks to medical advancements and safer, legalized procedures.

Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images.

Abortions are down. But birth rates aren't up. And there are also fewer women dealing with unintended pregnancies. Maybe that's the trick.

As Rachel Jones, the lead author of the study, told NPR, "We think the story that's going on in a lot of situations, in a lot of states, is that fewer women are having unintended pregnancies and in turn fewer abortions, and that is actually a good story."

The study specifically cites the state of Iowa, which had one of the sharpest declines in abortions in the country. While several abortion clinics in the state were shuttered in recent years, they also expanded access to long-acting reversible contraceptives and birth control, with targeted outreach to people in poor and low-income communities, who are much more likely to have unintended pregnancy or an abortion, particularly when they already have children. Not only does it relieve them of that potential burden, it also saves money for everyone in the long run.

Iowa's not alone, either. According to the Guttmacher study, the use of IUDs and similar contraceptives is up more than 36% among all women since 2009, and 48% among women at government-supported programs or clinics. Meanwhile, teen pregnancy rates across the country have dropped by 25% in recent years too — and credit is given to contraception availability, not abstinence-only education.

Photo by Jay Directo/AFP/Getty Images.

Women’s health care is an intersectional problem, an economic problem, and above all, something women should have more power over.

There's lots of nuance in the Guttmacher study and the topic of abortion in general. And while there's still more research needed, it's hard to deny that more choice and more control for women is a better thing for everyone.

I don’t have a uterus. I don’t know what it’s like. I’ve never been and will never be pregnant. But I trust that women can make better choices about their own bodies, particularly when they’re empowered and informed.

If you want to see fewer abortions, then you need to support the organizations that are already providing and fighting for reproductive health care. That’s the only way to guarantee people’s right to life.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

This article originally appeared on 12.02.19


Just imagine being an 11-year-old boy who's been shuffled through the foster care system. No forever home. No forever family. No idea where you'll be living or who will take care of you in the near future.

Then, a loving couple takes you under their care and chooses to love you forever.

What could one be more thankful for?

That's why when a fifth grader at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills, Utah was asked by his substitute teacher what he's thankful for this Thanksgiving, he said finally being adopted by his two dads.

via OD Action / Twitter

To the child's shock, the teacher replied, "that's nothing to be thankful for," and then went on a rant in front of 30 students saying that "two men living together is a sin" and "homosexuality is wrong."

While the boy sat there embarrassed, three girls in the class stood up for him by walking out of the room to tell the principal. Shortly after, the substitute was then escorted out of the building.

While on her way out she scolded the boy, saying it was his fault she was removed.

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One of the boy's parents-to-be is Louis van Amstel, is a former dancer on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." "It's absolutely ridiculous and horrible what she did," he told The Salt Lake Tribune. "We were livid. It's 2019 and this is a public school."

The boy told his parents-to-be he didn't speak up in the classroom because their final adoption hearing is December 19 and he didn't want to do anything that would interfere.

He had already been through two failed adoptions and didn't want it to happen again.

via Loren Javier / Flickr

A spokesperson for the Alpine School District didn't go into detail about the situation but praised the students who spoke out.

"Fellow students saw a need, and they were able to offer support," David Stephenson said. "It's awesome what happened as far as those girls coming forward."

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He also said that "appropriate action has been taken" with the substitute teacher.

"We are concerned about any reports of inappropriate behavior and take these matters very seriously," Kelly Services, the school the contracts out substitute teachers for the district, said in a statement. "We conduct business based on the highest standards of integrity, quality, and professional excellence. We're looking into this situation."

After the incident made the news, the soon-to-be adoptive parents' home was covered in paper hearts that said, "We love you" and "We support you."

Religion is supposed to make us better people.

But what have here is clearly a situation where a woman's judgement about what is good and right was clouded by bigoted dogma. She was more bothered by the idea of two men loving each other than the act of pure love they committed when choosing to adopt a child.