CBSN

Abortion rates in the U.S. continue to decline

U.S. abortions continue to fall, according to a new federal report released on Wednesday.

Federal statistics show abortions have been in a general decline for about 25 years.

The number of reported abortions dropped four percent in 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. About 699,000 abortions were reported to the federal government that year. That's about 31,000 fewer than the year before.

Experts offer various reasons for the recent drop: Better use of birth control and the lingering effects of the economic recession. Others argue there's been a cultural shift and more women opt to continue their pregnancy.

In 2012, the abortion rate fell five percent to 13 abortions per 1,000 women of child-bearing age. That's about half what it was in 1974, the year after the landmark Supreme Court decision that established a nationwide right to abortion.

The CDC data is not a complete national picture, though. It's based on reports from health departments in 47 states, Washington D.C., and New York City. California, Maryland, and New Hampshire don't report abortion numbers.

Earlier this year, The Associated Press surveyed health departments in 45 states, gathering more recent data, mostly from 2013 and 2014. The AP found that abortions continued to fall in those years. Declines were seen in states that have passed anti-abortion laws as well as in more liberal states.