The number of abortions is decreasing nationwide, with the numbers in Indiana falling at an even faster rate than the national average. The number of abortions performed in Indiana has dropped by 20 percent in the past five years.
Sue Swayze, vice president of public affairs for Indiana Right to Life, says laws delaying access to abortions could be influencing that. She also says a social switch has occurred, making younger generations more pro-life.
“I remember when Roe came in and we really though it might be a blob of tissue or something,” Swayze says. “But in today’s generation, they’ve grown up with ultrasounds. They don’t know any different. It’s an ultrasound, something we share, put on Facebook.”
But Betty Cockrum, president of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, says education and access to birth control has curbed the abortion rate.
She says people focus on Planned Parenthood’s abortion procedures, but that’s only a small portion of the patients they see.
“What we really do is more than anybody else in the state of Indiana to reduce abortion because that is done by reducing unintended pregnancy,” Cockrum says.
Cockrum says making emergency contraception available over the counter and comprehensive sexual education contributed to the change.
Health Care Education and Training based in Indianapolis provides education, training, evaluation and professional development for adults who work with youth. More than 20 evidence-based sexual education programs exist in the state, ranging from elementary school programs helping children make better, well-informed decisions to comprehensive sex education programs for high school students.
In addition to working with schools and other youth leaders, HCET also works with parents.
A survey done by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy has found for the last 20 years that teens say that parents — not peers, partners or popular culture — most influence their decisions about sex.
“They say it would be much easier for them to avoid pregnancy if they were able to talk more openly with their parents,” Zaban says. “The problem is a lot of parents think either this education is happening at school or they themselves aren’t comfortable or don’t even know what to say.”
HCET helps parents find medically accurate information and techniques for discussing this topic with their children.
All Options Pregnancy Resource Center in Bloomington opened on May 1 and provides support for unplanned pregnancy, miscarriage, infertility, abortion, adoption and parenting. They also offer a support help-line run by their parent organization, Backline.
“Time and time again people call us because we’re the only safe space where they can talk about all of their experience and really bring their whole messy, complex selves to the conversation,” Shelly Dodson, director of All Options PRC, says.