Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that abortion and unplanned pregnancy rates dramatically plummet when birth control is provided for free. While this may not be surprising, what is surprising are the numbers. By providing free birth control to 9,256 women and adolescents between the ages of 14- 45 in the St. Louis area between 2007 and 2011, researchers found that there was a 62% – 78% decrease in abortion and unplanned pregnancy.
Jeff Peipert, MD, PhD, and Robert J. Terry Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology stated that:
The impact of providing no-cost birth control was far greater than we expected in terms of unintended pregnancies. We think improving access to birth control, particularly IUDs and implants, coupled with education on the most effective methods has the potential to significantly decrease the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions in this country.
Unplanned pregnancies account for 50% of all U.S. pregnancies, which is higher than most other developed countries. Roughly half of these pregnancies are the result of women not using contraception and the other half from incorrect use.
IUDs and implants are a great option, providing superior protection and remaining effective for 3 – 10 years depending on the type. Unfortunately they are very expensive upfront, costing in many instances over $800 and not being covered by insurance.
The researchers remind us that:
Unintended pregnancy remains a major health problem in the United States, with higher proportions among teenagers and women with less education and lower economic status. The results of this study demonstrate that we can reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy and this is key to reducing abortions in this country.
I understand that people don’t want to pay for the contraception of others through taxes, but paying for other people’s children through welfare, food stamps, and other methods costs far, far more. I am still undecided on the issue of whether some form of safe and effective contraception should be completely free. What do you think?