PHOENIX — The number of abortions in Arizona is dropping much more slowly than the national average despite a host of new state laws designed to make it more difficult for women to access abortion services, according to an Associated Press survey.
Preliminary statistics from the state Health Services Department for 2014 show Arizona saw a 5 percent decline in abortions since 2011, from 13,606 abortions in 2011 to 12,900 last year.
That compares with a 12 percent decline nationally since 2010, according to the AP survey of all 45 states where abortion reporting is required. Arizona changed its reporting requirements in 2010, so figures before 2011 are not comparable.
Abortion rights advocates say the small drop in Arizona compared with many other states shows that women are not dissuaded from having an abortion once they have made up their mind.
“As you’ve seen across the country, what it doesn’t seem to be related to, at least not very much, are these draconian regulations that state Legislatures attempt to put in place,” said Jodi Liggett, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Arizona. “And I think what you’re seeing in Arizona is despite the intentions of the sponsors of these bills, they’re not actually moving the needle very much.”
Abortion foes disagreed.
“I feel like we have moved the needle — a five percent decrease is still significant,” said Aaron Baer, communications director for the Center for Arizona Policy, which has backed a series of bills targeting abortion that became law. “And at the end of the day, we view it as Arizona’s efforts to pass common-sense laws to protect pre-born children and their mothers have been successful.”
Arizona’s Republican-led Legislature has passed a wave of laws targeting abortion in recent years, some of which have been blocked by courts. But other laws are in effect.
This year, the Legislature passed a law blocking women from buying optional abortion coverage on insurance policies bought though the federal health insurance marketplace. A provision of that law requiring abortion providers to tell women that drug-induced abortions may be reversed was challenged in federal court Thursday by abortion providers.