INDIANAPOLIS – A new report shows the number of abortions performed in Indiana in 2010 fell by 5 percent from the previous year, but anti-abortion activists said Friday they were concerned about a substantial increase in drug-induced abortions.
The report by the Indiana Department of Health found that 10,031 abortions were performed in Indiana in 2010, a drop of more than 500 from the 10,557 reported in 2009.
Abortion rights supporters and abortion opponents alike said they were pleased by the continuing decline in the rate.
The report also showed what one research group said was a shift toward drug-induced abortions in early pregnancy. There were 1,968 drug-induced abortions in 2010, or about 35 percent more than the 1,460 in 2009, according to the report.
Both the overall drop and the rise in drug-induced abortions reflect national trends, said Rebecca Wind, a spokeswoman for the New York-based Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights group focused on sexual and reproductive health research.
A Guttmacher study based on 2008 data released last year found the proportion of such procedures, which use a combination of two drugs instead of surgery, increased from 14 percent to 17 percent of all abortions between 2005 and 2008.
The study noted that women were increasingly seeking abortions early in pregnancy, when the procedure is safest.
In Indiana, nearly one in five abortions in 2010 was drug-induced, according to the state report.
Jon Mills, a spokesman for Planned Parenthood of Indiana, said privacy was likely one reason for the increase, because women can complete the abortion process at home.
Indiana Right to Life President Mike Fichter said the anti-abortion group was “startled” by the increase in drug-induced abortions.
“The troubling part of the report is the sharp rise in chemical abortions in Indiana,” he said.
Fichter attributed the decline in Indiana’s overall abortion rate in part to the passage of state laws restricting abortion. But, he said, “legislators need to take action to bring Indiana law up to the realities of abortion in 2012.”
Indiana is among several states that have enacted laws restricting access to abortion, Wind said.
“There has been a big uptick in the last two years in state restrictions on abortion,” she said.
Indiana lawmakers passed additional restrictions last year, including criminalizing abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy unless there is a substantial threat to the woman’s life or health.
An effort to restrict use of RU-486, the so-called abortion pill, stalled in this year’s session. The drug, also called mifepristone, was legalized in the U.S. in 2000. Mifepristone is one of the drugs used in drug-induced abortions.
Planned Parenthood of Indiana said in a statement Friday that further reducing the rate of abortion depends on improving access to family planning services and sex education, and criticized the state’s restrictive approach.
“Restricting access to health care, intruding on the physician-patient relationship and stripping women of rights will only set Indiana back. Indiana is still 49th in the nation in terms of accessibility of family planning services and we are woefully behind the rest of the nation in regard to the teen birth rate in our state,” the statement said.
The state report found that about 85 percent of the women receiving abortions were not married. The number of women age 17 or younger receiving abortions in 2010 was 499, down from 628 in 2009. The largest proportion of women obtaining abortions – 33.5 percent – were ages 20 tp 24.
Marion County had more abortions than any other county at nearly 6,000, followed by Lake County at nearly 2,000.
The report said more than 3,700 of the women undergoing the procedure in 2010 had previous abortions. Nearly 200 had at least four previous abortions.