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Abortion rate falls; sides debate merits

– The abortion rate has continued to decline in Indiana amid a long march of laws that have made it steadily more difficult for a woman to end her pregnancy in the state, health records show.

A recent report by the State Department of Health says 1,000 fewer Indiana women had abortions in 2013 than in 2011. That’s a drop of about 12 percent in two years. Compared with 2008, the drop is even steeper – slightly more than one-fourth.

Indiana Right to Life President Mike Fichter said the number of abortions performed annually in the state has dropped by more than half since 1980.

“We look at this downward spiral as an encouraging trend, but one that we want to see continue and one that we have full expectations will continue,” Richter said Thursday.

Abortion-rights advocates, however, say the decline comes at a high price.

“Indiana is really one of the most restrictive states in the country,” Guttmacher Institute state issues manager Elizabeth Nash said Thursday. The institute, which supports legal access to abortion, tracks abortion statistics across the U.S.

Among the restrictions adopted in Indiana in recent years are requirements that women be given an ultrasound before an abortion, though they can choose whether to view it, and banning health care plans from paying for abortions except in certain exceptions such as life or death, or rape.

A law took effect July 1 requires that abortion clinics are subject to at least one unannounced health inspection each year.

Efforts at curbing abortions haven’t always been successful.

A law that had been set to take effect Jan. 1 would have required clinics that perform nonsurgical abortions by dispensing an abortion pill to meet the same standards as those that perform surgical abortions. A federal judge blocked that law and that preliminary injunction remains in effect.

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