When the political debate about abortion was the rage there was concern by some that it was modern day eugenics. Federal abortions would overwhelmingly impact minorities, they said, while others argued that abortions controlled by states meant only wealthy people got them.

Whether you are for or against, there seems to be good news; the rate is lower than it has been for 46 years, finds the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute. That means birth control is working and not that abortions became birth control, as some worried - instead, actual contraception is the norm, which brings with it a host of other health benefits. 

In 2017, an estimated 862,320 abortions were provided in clinical settings in the United States, representing a 7% decline since 2014 but the abortion rate dropped to 13.5 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44, the lowest rate since abortion was made into federal law in 1973. 

Abortion rates fell in most states and in all four regions of the country.

Data prior to that are likely not valid because it was up to states whether to allow abortions or not and though the five largest states had legal abortion by the time the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government superseded states (the landmark Roe v. Wade case) there were no real data on how often it occurred nationwide. 

Other findings: Though there is political infighting about abortion restrictions in some states (227 restrictions in the last five years, according to the paper), there was no relationship between increases or decreases in clinic numbers and changes in state abortion rates. Fertility rates declined in almost all states between 2014 and 2017, so the decline in abortion was not due to an increase in unintended births either.

The most likely explanation, they note, is people are being more responsible about contraception.  And since contraception can often lead to less sexual disease transmission, that is a public health win.