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How many abortions are actually performed in the US?, April jobs report: 5 Things podcast

May 6, 2022

On today's episode of the 5 Things podcast: How many abortions are actually performed in the US?

Reporter Elizabeth Weise examines a declining abortion rate. Plus, Putin may be desperate for a win before next week's Russian Victory Day, reporter Chris Woodyard looks at the lagging number of public electric vehicle charging stations, the April jobs report is out today and the WNBA season tips off.

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Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.

Taylor Wilson:

Good morning. I'm Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Friday, the 6th of May 2022. Today, how many abortions are performed in the US? Plus, Putin's focus on a battlefield win before Russia's Victory Day, and more.

Here are some of the top headlines: 

  1. A week after a corrections officer and inmate left the detention center in Alabama, they remain on the run. Assistant Director for Corrections, Vicky White, and inmate Casey White, appear to have pulled off an orchestrated jail break. Casey White was convicted of trying to kill his ex-girlfriend. 
  2. The death toll has reached 53 after a building collapse in central China last week. The search for those trapped has been called off.
  3. And President Joe Biden has named Karine Jean-Pierre as the new White House press secretary. She replaces Jen Psaki, who will leave the role at the end of next week.

There's a renewed debate around abortion in the United States. After this week's leaked draft opinion showed the Supreme Court is considering overturning Roe v. Wade, many are worried about the future of abortion rights. But as reporter Elizabeth Weise tells us abortion rates in the US have already been falling for decades.

Elizabeth Weise:

The US abortion rate has been falling steadily since 1981, which actually came as a bit of a surprise to me because there's so much discussion of abortion that you were imagining it was burgeoning, but in fact, it's not. And that's probably, experts say, due to the fact that we've just got better birth control and better access to birth control. And if you have better access to birth control and better birth control, you don't get pregnant in the first place.

So, we started out in 1973, when Roe was decided. The abortion rate that we use is 16 ... well, in 1973, it was 16.3 abortions per every 1000 women of reproductive age, which is between the ages of 15 and 44. And we use that because the US population changes, so the absolute numbers of abortions might change over time, because there's more people in the US now than there were back in 1973. So, it's the rate that they count.

So, it started out at 16.3 in '73. It rose to a high of 29.3 in 1981. And that was because over those years, abortion became more accessible and more available to women in more parts of the country. And then, it starts to drop in the '90s, by '95 it's down to 22. By 2000, it's down to 20. The last year that we have statistics for, which is 2019, it's down to 11.4. So, that is a big change. It's fallen by three fifths since 1981. And when I talk to experts, they said there are many reasons, but one of the biggest is that over the course of these last 50 years, we've just gotten much better birth control.

Having an unintended pregnancy gives you the highest chance of ending up getting an abortion, because you weren't trying to get pregnant and you weren't wanting to have a baby. So, the numbers are, we think in the US, about half of pregnancies are unintended. The numbers have been that about 40% of those lead to abortion, so access to better birth control leads to fewer abortions.

Taylor Wilson:

You can find Elizabeth's full story in today's episode description, and more on the abortion rights fight at USATODAY.com.

Russian president Vladimir Putin is focused on a battlefield win or escalation of the overall invasion in Ukraine in time for Victory Day on Monday. The head of Britain's armed forces said Putin is trying to rush to a tactical win. Victory Day is the biggest patriotic holiday on the Russian calendar, marking the Soviet Union's triumph over Nazi Germany. A win for Putin could come in Mariupol. Russia has largely overtaken the southeastern port city, but a few thousand Ukrainian fighters remain holed up at the Azovstal steel plant. Yesterday saw bloody battles between them and Russian troops. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said during his nightly address last night that the attack on the plant was preventing civilians from evacuating underground bunkers there. Russia, though, has accused Ukraine of blocking evacuation efforts out of the city.

Meanwhile, the authoritarian leader of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, defended Russia's invasion in an Associated Press interview yesterday, but he also said his country stands for peace.

Taylor Wilson translating for Alexander Lukashenko:

"We categorically do not accept any war. We have done and are doing everything now so that there isn't a war. Thanks to yours truly, me, that is, negotiations between Ukraine and Russia have begun. I know Russia's position. I know what Russia is offering to Ukraine. But why is Ukraine, on whose territory a war in effect is ongoing - military action, people are dying - why is Ukraine not interested in these negotiations?"

Lukashenko also offered a possible glimpse into Putin's broader goals.

Taylor Wilson translating for Alexander Lukashenko:

"He most likely does not want a global confrontation with NATO. Use it. Use it and do everything for that escalation not to happen. Otherwise, even if Putin doesn't want it, the military will react."

Belarus was used by Russia as a launchpad for the invasion. But in the interview, Lukashenko created some distance between himself and the Kremlin and referred to the conflict as a war, a term Moscow refuses to use. It instead calls the fighting a special military operation.

The sale of electric vehicles is surging, but the race to install public stations to charge them is lagging behind. Reporter Chris Woodyard has more.

Chris Woodyard:

The interest in electric cars has never been higher. Automakers are coming up with tantalizing new models, dealers can't keep them in their showrooms. But buyers may be getting caught up in the hype and not giving enough serious consideration to where they'll actually be able to recharge them.

If you own a house that can handle the installation of a charger in the garage, no problem, you're golden. But if you live in an apartment or are contemplating a road trip, there's some things you should know. We talked to EV owners about both situations. The apartment dwellers told us it could be frustrating finding a place to charge. If you can't charge at the office, as some do, you may have to hunt around town for a charger, hope it works, and that someone else is not hogging it.

Road trips are a different matter. We talked to an EV enthusiast who is careful to plan her route and charging plans in advance. She's smart about it. She picks places where there are multiple charging options in case one set is on the blink. She also finds cool restaurants nearby so she can dine while her car loads up on electrons. But the nation still needs more chargers, especially in rural America. That's where the federal government comes in. The Transportation Department has won a $7.5 billion program to install chargers, mostly in rural America, to make up for the shortfall. Until those chargers are installed, love your new EV but don't count on filling up to be necessarily as easy as hitting the filling station on a road trip. You're always going to be able to charge more easily in your own driveway or garage.

The April Jobs Report is out today. An economist surveyed by the data provider FactSet expected to show that 400,000 jobs were added. That number, while strong, would be a slight dip from the 431,000 added in March. Economists also forecast that the unemployment rate remained at 3.6%, just above the half century low that came right before the pandemic, but a drop from the 3.8% in February. At least 400,000 jobs have been added every month since May of 2021.

The WNBA season tips off today. It's the basketball league's 26th season and comes full of storylines. 12-time All-Star, 5-time all-WNBA first teamer, and all-time assist leader, Sue Bird, has indicated she'll likely retire after this season. As has Sylvia Fowles, the league's 2017 MVP and all-time rebounds leader. Plus, Becky Hammon, the second female coach ever in the NBA, as longtime assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs, takes over as the head coach of the Las Vegas Aces. And all eyes are on the Chicago Sky, to see if they can become the first team to repeat as champions since the Los Angeles Sparks in 2002.

But possibly the biggest storyline of all centers around Brittney Griner. The Phoenix Mercury star also plays in the Russian league during the off season, but she's been detained in Russia since February, when authorities said they found a cannabis oil vape cartridge in her luggage at the Moscow Airport. As you heard from reporter Scooby Axson on the show earlier this week, the US State Department has since classified Griner as being wrongfully detained. You can go back and hear more of that story on the May 4th episode of 5 Things. The WNBA plans to recognize her with on-court floor decals and her number 42. For coverage of the WNBA all season long, stay with USA TODAY Sports.

And you can find us with new episodes of 5 Things every day of the week on your favorite podcast app. Thanks to PJ Elliott for his great work on the show. And I'm back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA TODAY.

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