Women in Kootenai County had more abortions per live births in 2005 than any other county in the state, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported.
According to the recently released statistics, women in the county had 206.9 abortions per 1,000 live births. In the rest of the state, the ratio was 79.2 per 1,000 in 2005, the latest year that statistics are available.
In the nation, the rate was 241 abortions per 1,000 live births.
Nancy Tefft, of the Pregnancy Care Center in Coeur d’Alene, said local attitudes about abortion and the ability to go to Spokane were part of the reason behind the numbers in the report.
“It’s very accessible and anonymous, in many cases because of not being in our own community,” Tefft told the Coeur d’Alene Press.
According to the report, none of the abortions performed on county residents in 2005 was done in Kootenai County.
Jamie Clark, Health and Welfare senior research analyst, said only Ada, Bannock and Blaine counties in Idaho were performing abortions in 2005.
According to the report, Idaho’s five northern counties led abortions per live births in the state in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2005.
“There’s so many variables; it’s very difficult to speculate what’s going on,” said Jet Tilley, director of public policy of Planned Parenthood of the Inland Northwest.
“There’s nobody who’s publishing unintended pregnancy rates.”
The report said that out-of-wedlock Kootenai County births were 25.8 percent, about average for the state. Of those women, 166 were 20 to 24 years old. That age group also had more abortions, 101 in Kootenai County, than the other age groups.
Not having access to contraception can lead to unintended pregnancies and abortions, said Tilley, who also noted that a lack of information can have the same result.
“If what a community has decided at their school district level is to teach abstinence only, there is a barrier to good sex education,” she said.
The Lakeland School District policy on sex education is abstinence-based.
Tilley said Planned Parenthood is planning to survey pharmacists on access to contraception.
“We’re trying to get a better handle on what’s happening now,” she said.
Mary Newman, of Right to Life of Coeur d’Alene, said education was important to her organization as well.
“We do our educational focus, and that’s really what we feel what our position is, is to educate people,” she said.
“Evidently either the education is not getting to the people or it’s not affecting people.”