MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The number of abortions performed in Shelby County has fallen sharply during the past five years.

Abortions in the county declined by 36.6 percent between 2011 and 2014, the most recent year for which figures are available through the Tennessee Department of Health, reported the Commercial Appeal (http://memne.ws/2bUCIcZ ).

The ratio of abortions per 1,000 live births dropped from 326.4 in 2011 to 208.2 in 2014.

The reasons for the decline are disputed among anti-abortion and pro-abortion groups. However, both sides agree that increased access to contraceptives like implants and intrauterine devices has been a factor.

Anti-abortion groups say that laws restricting abortion, along with programs aimed at persuading women to avoid the procedure, have contributed to the decline.

Campaigns like the one that brings mobile ultrasounds to pregnant women so they can “see the humanity of their unborn child” have prevented many abortions, said Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life.

Many women are getting contraceptives through the Affordable Care Act, according to local providers of contraception like Planned Parenthood.

“Our numbers have probably increased by tenfold, so I think that explains a lot of (the abortion decline),” said Dr. Sarah Wallett, medical director for Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region.


Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com