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In 30 states, abortion rates haven’t been this low since at least 1976

The map above shows how long it’s been since each state has had an abortion rate as low as in 2011. The darkest red states reflect those where the 2011 abortion rate was the lowest since at least 1976.

In 30 states, abortion rates are at their lowest levels in at least 30 years, according to new data from the Guttmacher Institute, a think tank that advocates for sexual and reproductive health and rights. In nine of those states, rates are the lowest since records began in 1973.

The think tank released new data on Monday showing that the national abortion rate is at its lowest level since 1973, and all but six states saw abortion rates decline from 2008 through 2011, the latest year for which data is available. The data also show that abortions were on the decline before the recent surge in state abortion restrictions. (Between 2011 to 2013, more restrictions were enacted than in the entire first decade of the 2000s.)

Guttmacher researchers concluded that the decline had little to do with state-level restrictions and were more likely related to the Great Recession and more and better use of contraceptives.

The highest abortion rates recorded were in New York, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Delaware and New Jersey, with 27 to 34 abortions per thousand women ages 15 to 44. Wyoming, Mississippi, South Dakota, Kentucky and Missouri had the lowest, at one to five per thousand. But those numbers only represent the state where abortions took place. In Wyoming, for example, more than 90 percent of abortion patients in 2009 went out of state for the operation, according to Guttmacher.

In nine states, the abortion rate is the lowest since the Guttmacher records began in 1973. Those states are: California, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin.

In an additional 21 states, the rate is at 34- to 38-year lows. Those states are: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

Niraj Chokshi is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.

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