SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

October 6, 2012

Free birth-control = fewer abortions

Study: Free birth control led to fewer abortions

The results — 6.3 births per 1,000 St. Louis teens compared with 34 per 1,000 in the U.S. in 2010 — come as the new health-care law offers access to contraception without co-pays.

By Lauran Neergaard ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON — Free birth control has led to dramatically lower rates of abortions and teen births, a large study concluded yesterday, offering strong evidence for how a bitterly contested Obama administration policy could benefit women’s health.

  • The project tracked more than 9,000 women in St. Louis, many of them poor or uninsured. They were given their choice of a range of contraceptive methods at no cost — from birth-control pills to goof-proof options like an IUD or a matchstick-sized implant.

When price wasn’t an issue, women flocked to the most-effective contraceptives the implanted options, which typically cost hundreds of dollars upfront to insert. The women experienced far fewer unintended pregnancies as a result, reported Dr. Jeffrey Peipert of Washington University in St. Louis in a study published yesterday.

  • The effect on teen pregnancy was striking: 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers in the study, compared to a national rate of 34 births per 1,000 teens in 2010.

There also were substantially lower rates of abortion, when compared with women in the metro area and nationally: 4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women in the study, compared with 13.4 to 17 abortions per 1,000 women overall in the St. Louis region, Peipert calculated. That’s lower than the national rate, too, which is almost 20 abortions per 1,000 women.

If the program were expanded, one abortion could be prevented for every 79 to 137 women given a free contraceptive choice, Peipert’s team reported in the journal   Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The findings come as millions of U.S. women are beginning to get access to contraception without copays under President Barack Obama’s health-care law. Women’s health specialists said the Washington University’s research foreshadows that policy’s potential impact.

  • “As a society, we want to reduce unintended pregnancies and abortion rates. This study has demonstrated that having access to no-cost contraception helps us get to that goal,” said Alina Salganicoff, director of women’s health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
  • “It’s just an amazing improvement,” Dr. James T. Breeden, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said of the results. “I would think if you were against abortions, you would be 100 percent for contraception access.”

The law requires that Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives be available for free for women enrolled in most workplace insurance plans, a change that many will see as new plan years begin on Jan. 1.

The policy is among the new health-care law’s most contentious provisions because it exempts churches that oppose contraception but requires religious-affiliated organizations, such as colleges or hospitals, to provide the coverage for their workers.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and many conservative groups say that violates religious freedom, and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has voiced similar criticism.

  • This week, a federal judge in St. Louis dismissed a lawsuit challenging the contraception mandate; nearly three dozen similar suits have been filed in the U.S.

Yesterday’s data didn’t sway the critics.

Jeanne Monahan of the conservative Family Research Council suggested contraceptive use can encourage riskier sexual behavior.

“Additionally, one might conclude that the Obama administration’s contraception mandate may ultimately cause more unplanned pregnancies since it mandates that all health plans cover contraceptives, including those that the study’s authors claim are less effective,” Monahan said.

(Societies have never spoken with “ONE MIND” so there are bound to be opposing views on this.   But aside from the ultimate cost savings which will be realized over time (always a deep consideration),  I am looking at the young ladies whose lives will not be disrupted or perhaps ruined with unwanted pregnancies.  Young ladies without the benefit of family, husband and all the support which that entails will now be free to go on and make a life for themselves without this life-altering burden thrust upon them.    I say “Bravo.”   This is indeed a marvelous study with fantastic results.    Jan)


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