The abortion rate in the U.S. has fallen to its lowest level in more than four decades, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The latest report, released by the CDC on Wednesday, found that the number of abortions performed in the U.S. has dropped by two percent from 2013 to 2014.
A total of 652,639 abortions were performed in 2014, continuing a steady decline over the last few years. There were 12.1 abortions per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44 that same year, compared to 19.4 per 1,000 women in 2008.
The largest decline was seen among pregnant teenagers, with a 46 percent reduction in the abortion rate since 2008. There was also a decline in abortions among older age groups, although the drops were much smaller. Most of the abortions were performed on women in their 20s, and most were carried out before 13 weeks gestation.
Despite the overall decline, the report found that there was a four percent increase in women over the age of 40 terminating pregnancies.
"Given the small proportion of abortions that are performed later in gestation among women aged over 40 years, which potentially might be completed for maternal medical indications or fetal anomalies, the continuing high abortion ratio among these older women suggests that unintended pregnancy is a problem that women encounter throughout their reproductive years," the CDC noted, according to Newsweek.
While the decline has coincided with the closure of abortion clinics across the nation, experts have attributed it to the more effective use of contraception and the falling pregnancy rate.
Between 2007 and 2012, there has been a 5.6 percent drop in the number of pregnant teenagers aged 15 to 19. During that same period, there was reportedly an increase in the sexual activity among teenagers, but there has been a rise in the use of "effective" contraception methods such as the IUD, the pill and the injection.
The report also found that the infant mortality rate had plummeted to an all-time low of six deaths per 1,000 births, and there was also a decline in both preterm births and cesarean section deliveries.
The researchers noted that while the abortion rate decreased across all racial, ethnic and socio-economic lines, women living in poverty still accounted for 49 percent of all abortions in the U.S.
"Cost, as well as insufficient provider reimbursement and training, inadequate client-centered counseling or youth-friendly services, and low client awareness of available contraceptive methods are common barriers to accessing contraception. Removing these barriers can help improve contraceptive use, thereby reducing the number of unintended pregnancies and consequently the number of abortions performed in the United States," the report stated.