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Utah: Lowest abortion, highest adoption rates

Utah has the highest child adoption rate and the lowest abortion rate in the nation, according to the National Committee for Adoption, whose chairman gives much of the credit to the influence of the Church.

William Pierce said the emphasis on traditional family values in the state - two-thirds of whose residents are Latter-day Saints - probably plays a strong role in influencing abortion and adoption decisions."Not only do the Mormons place a strong emphasis on family values," Pierce said in an interview, "but the state of Utah has a substantial number of very good, professional social service agencies which are operated by the Church and whose services include adoptions."

Referring to the Church's LDS Social Service offices in the state, Pierce said, "The network probably contains some of the most highly trained professional social workers in the entire country."

The adoption rate - the number of adoptions for every 1,000 abortions and out-of-wedlock births - was 52 in Utah for 1986, the latest year for which comparative figures are available. "That's five times the national average," he said.

The Beehive State not only leads the nation in overall adoptions, Pierce said, but its record is admirable in the area of adopting children with special needs such as physically and emotionally handicapped children, older children, sibling groups and minorities.

Meanwhile, "Utah has the lowest abortion rate of any state in the Union," Pierce said. The Utah abortion rate is 121.9 per 1,000 live births, as compared to 422.9 for the nation.

"In Utah, abortion is seen as an option which people ought to try to avoid if at all possible," Pierce said.