As you probably already know, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, requires that Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives be available for free to women enrolled in most workplace insurance plans. They also come with many government-financed health programs.
In a study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology and reported on October 4, 2012 by the Associated Press, free birth control leads to dramatically lower rates of abortions and teen births.
The project tracked more than 9,000 women, many of them poor and/or uninsured, in the St. Louis, Missouri area, who had a choice from a range of contraceptive methods at no cost. When price wasn’t an issue, women tended to choose the most effective options, which typically cost hundreds of dollars to insert. These options include intra-uterine devices (IUDs) and under-skin matchstick-sized implants. Dr. Jeffrey Peipert of Washington University reported that these women had far fewer unintended pregnancies than the population at large.
The results involving teen pregnancy were even more dramatic. There were 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers in the study. Compare that to a national rate of 34 births per 1,000 teens in 2010.
Abortion has been a controversial moral and political issue in the United States for at least the last century. Those who oppose government-funded abortions reason that taxpayers should not be burdened with the consequences of poor judgment on the part of reluctant parents-to-be. But frequently these are the same individuals who argue that neither the federal government nor insurance companies should be compelled to pay for birth control. But the St. Louis study shows that when compared with women in the metropolitan area and nationally, those who received free contraception had about one-third the rate of abortions. (Note: these are approximate, general statistics within a defined range, depending on the contraceptive employed.)
The study indicates that one abortion could be prevented for every 79 to 137 women given a free birth control option. Putting this in perspective, we live in a society in which the idea of neglecting children in impoverished circumstances is generally abhorrent. Families with kids living destitute lifestyles mandate that society, in the form of government programs, step in. As the president and members of Congress attempt to deal with calls for the reduction of government entitlement programs in the face of widespread poverty, doesn’t it make sense to reduce the quantity of both abortions and unwanted kids by providing relatively inexpensive birth control?
Kaiser Family Foundation director of women’s health policy, Alina Salganicoff expressed it this way: “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.” As Dr. James Breeden, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists views it, “It’s just an amazing improvement. I would think if you were against abortions, you would be 100 percent for contraception access.”
We live on a planet that cannot possibly sustain its growing population without causing intolerable wear and tear on its ecosystems, renewable resources, and human sustainability. There are way more than enough of us, even without our seemingly ceaseless reproducing. And with a U.S. economy teetering on the brink (or, in the current vernacular, “headed for the fiscal cliff”) it seems that one entitlement that is a money saver, poverty preventer, and lifestyle rescuer, is free birth control.
We don’t necessarily feel that free contraception is a good idea for those who can readily afford their own, but for those for whom birth control is an “either/or” choice, this one is a no-brainer.