WASHINGTON, D.C.: The number of abortions performed in the United States (US) has dropped to the lowest level in 40 years, a study said on Monday, pointing to more contraception use rather than increased restrictions on access to the procedure. In 2011, an estimated 16.9 abortions were carried out per 1,000 women aged between 15 and 44—1.1 million in absolute terms. It was the lowest number since 1973, when the figure stood at 16.3 per 1,000, the Guttmacher Institute found. Between 2008 and 2011, the abortion rate fell by 13 percent, as procedures were performed increasingly earlier in pregnancy. The study noted that during that same period, the number of abortion providers fell by just four percent and clinics offering the service by just one percent. The number of abortions had reached a peak in 1981, with 29.3 terminations for every 1,000 women.