A new study out of St. Louis confirms what all of us could have guessed: when given access to free birth control, women are less likely to have an unwanted pregnancy or get an abortion. More than 9,000 poor or uninsured women were given a choice of birth control methods available at no cost as part of the study conducted by the University of Washington in St. Louis on Thursday. The availability of free birth control led to only 4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women involved, compared to an average of 13.4 to 17 per 1,000 women in the St. Louis region and the national average of almost 20 abortions per 1,000 women. Teen pregnancy rates also took a hit, dropping to 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers in the study, compared to the 2010 national rate of 34 births per 1,000 teenagers.
The study, which ran from 2008 to 2010, may reflect the impact that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act will have, women’s health specialists say.
“As a society, we want to reduce unintended pregnancies and abortion rates,” said Alina Salganicoff, director of women’s health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “This study has demonstrated that having access to no-cost contraception helps get us to that goal.”
Many women in the study chose long-term birth control methods such as the IUD.
Um, duh! Arming women with the resources and information they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies and take control of their health is obviously the best way to prevent abortion. Luckily, FDA-approved methods of contraception will be available without a copay to women enrolled in most workplace insurance plans beginning as soon as January 1. Maybe this study will show opponents of the law just how important free contraception is to women everywhere. Well, one can only hope.
Images via popsci.com and thinkprogress.com.