Access to free birth control reduces abortion rates

Unplanned pregnancies are a significant problem in the United States. According to a 2012 Brookings Institution report, more than 90 percent of abortions occur due to unintended pregnancy.

Each year, about 50 percent of all pregnancies that occur in the US are not planned, a number far higher than is reported in other developed countries. About half of these pregnancies result from women not using contraception and the other half from incorrect or irregular use.

A new study by investigators at Washington University reports that providing birth control to women at no cost substantially reduces unplanned pregnancies and cuts abortion rates by a range of 62 to 78 percent compared to the national rate.

 

.. From 2008 to 2010, annual abortion rates among study participants ranged from 4.4 to 7.5 per 1,000 women. This is a substantial drop (ranging from 62 to 78 percent) compared to the national rate of 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women in 2008, the latest year for which figures are available.

The lower abortion rates among Choice study participants also is considerably less than the rates in St. Louis city and county, which ranged from 13.4 to 17 per 1,000 women for the same years.

Among girls ages 15 to 19 who had access to free birth control provided in the study, the annual birth rate was 6.3 per 1,000, far below the U.S. rate of 34.3 per 1,000 for girls the same age.

.. While birth control pills are the most commonly used reversible contraceptive in the United States, their effectiveness hinges on women remembering to take a pill every day and having easy access to refills.

In contrast, IUDs and implants are inserted by health-care providers and are effective for 5 to 10 years and 3 years, respectively. Despite their superior effectiveness over short-term methods, only a small percentage of U.S. women using contraception choose these methods. Many can’t afford the cost of IUDs and implants, which can cost more than $800 and may not be covered by insurance.

Free birth control begins in US today – what difference will it make to you?

Provisions in the Affordable Healthcare Act will give insured American women better access to basic care. How much do you currently pay for contraception? What difference will the new rules mean?

Many basic healthcare options for US women, including birth control and annual “well-woman” check-ups, become free on Wednesday as provisions in the Affordable Care Act come into force.

The new rules mean that many women will no longer have to stump up for “co-pays” or out-of-pocket expenses.

Trump rolls back access to free birth control

Donald Trump’s government has issued a ruling that allows employers to opt out of providing free birth control to millions of Americans.

The rule allows employers and insurers to decline to provide birth control if doing so violates their “religious beliefs” or “moral convictions”.

Fifty-five million women benefited from the Obama-era rule, which made companies provide free birth control.

Before taking office, Mr Trump had pledged to eliminate that requirement.

What happened?

The mandate requiring birth control coverage had been a key feature of so-called Obamacare – President Obama’s efforts to overhaul the US healthcare system.

But the requirement included a provision that permitted religious institutions to forgo birth control coverage for their employees.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said on Friday it was important to expand which organisations can opt out and deny free contraceptive coverage.

“We should have space for organisations to live out their religious ideas and not face discrimination because of their religious ideas,” said one HHS official, who did not wish to be named.

Why was the decision made?

In announcing the rule change, HHS officials cited a study claiming that access to contraception encourages “risky sexual behaviour”.

The department disputes reports that millions of women may lose their birth control coverage if they are unable to pay for it themselves.

 

Abortion in the U.S.: Five key facts

PROVIDING FREE BIRTH CONTROL DOES REDUCE ABORTION RATES

Colorado provides a real-life experiment on whether providing safe, effective, long-acting birth control can reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortions. The state’s Department of Public Health and Environment got private funding in 2008 for a program to provide long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), such as IUDs and hormone implants, to low-income women for little or no cost.

Image: Trends in abortion between 1997 and 2014
Trends in abortion between 1997 and 2014Guttmacher Institute

“The Colorado Family Planning Initiative helped cut the abortion rate nearly in half for women aged 15-19 and by 18 percent for women aged 20-24,” the department said in a 2017 report. “Between 2009 and 2014, birth and abortion rates both declined by nearly 50 percent among teens aged 15-19 and by 20 percent among young women aged 20-24.”