Abortion rates plummet with free birth control

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Providing birth control to women at no cost substantially reduced unplanned pregnancies and cut abortion rates by 62 percent to 78 percent over the national rate, a new study shows.


The research, by at Washington University School of in St. Louis, appears online Oct. 4 in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Among a range of birth control methods offered in the study, most women chose long-acting methods like intrauterine devices (IUDs) or implants, which have lower failure rates than commonly used birth control pills. In the United States, IUDs and implants have high up-front costs that sometimes aren’t covered by health insurance, making these methods unaffordable for many women.

“The impact of providing no-cost birth control was far greater than we expected in terms of unintended pregnancies,” says lead author Jeff Peipert, MD, the Robert J. Terry Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “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.”

Unintended pregnancies are a major problem in the United States. Each year, about 50 percent of all U.S. pregnancies are unplanned, far higher than in other developed countries. About half of these pregnancies result from women not using contraception and half from incorrect or irregular use. The Contraceptive Choice Project enrolled 9,256 women and adolescents in the St. Louis area between 2007 and 2011. Participants were 14-45 years of age, at risk for unintended pregnancy, and willing to start a new contraceptive method.

Participants had their choice of birth control methods, ranging from long-acting forms like IUDs and implants to shorter-acting methods such as birth control pills, patches and rings.

The women were counseled about the different methods, including their effectiveness, risks and benefits. The extremely low failure rate (less than 1 percent) of IUDs and implants over that of shorter-acting forms (8 percent to 10 percent) was emphasized. In all, about 75 percent of women in the study chose IUDs or implants.

Written By: MedicalXpress
continue to source article at medicalxpress.com

31 COMMENTS

  1. Something that has me in a constant state of aggravation is that here in the US, the same bunch who seek to vilify and eliminate abortion are the very same ones who are making affordable contraception difficult to obtain. Go figure.

    Just out of curiosity, is this just a feature of our extremely expensive and screwed up “for profit” health care system? How are the European health care systems dealing with this?  Are abortions free for patients under Universal Health Care systems?  What about birth control? Expensive? Free? 

  2. “lower failure rates than commonly used birth control pills” My belief was that the pill, properly taken was 100% effective. If so, claiming it has a failure rate is plain wrong- the failure is down to the woman taking it, surely? 
    Why is the pregnancy rate so high when the morning-after pill is available; how costly is a one-shot fix? Are American women more careless than other nationalities, or what other mechanism is there in the U.S. that exists  nowhere else? Abortion is a gruesome business best avoided and women who justify it as “it’s my body” overlook the inconvenient truth that there is often another body involved… 

    At any rate it would be hard to argue that free contraception would not be a good investment.

  3. Contraception is free in the UK including coils, IUDs, implants and pills. If a woman does get pregnant then the morning after pill is readily available. This is not regarded as controversial in the slightest way.
    Health clinics used to dispense free condoms in low income areas, but I am not sure if that still happens, the majority are purchased.
    Abortions are free, but you need to see at least two doctors before the procedure, selective terminations are not allowed (e.g. because of gender) but this is proving quite hard to enforce.
    The pressure if anything is from women’s groups to make sure that such services and medical support is even more widely available.

    The only part of the UK where abortions are not available is Northern Ireland, which not surprisingly is the area where religion has the strongest political influence.

  4. No medical treatment is 100% effective, hence it is possible for contraceptive pills to fail even when taken correctly. You’re right though that user error is the main reason that they don’t work as well as some other methods. Hence the growing use of IUDs which you can’t forget to take and also have a lower level of hormones.

  5.  I don’t think the lack of contraception in the US is entirely due to our for profit Healthcare system. I think at least part of the reason is that the vast majority of people who claim to be against abortion are really just hypocrites. They don’t really care about preventing abortions (if they did they would be for contraception) but instead its really all about controlling women and hoping that “bad girls” who have sex end up pregnant like they are “supposed to”.

  6. Red Dog

    Oh yes, there is that too.  I think they just parrot everything they’ve heard in church and preen and gloat and then when their own daughter gets pregnant at 16 they quietly “address the issue” and sweep it under the rug.  The next Sunday they’re all back at church singing Onward Christian Soldiers again.  

    I’m surprised that the demented Tea Party and the religious nuts haven’t banded together and demanded an end to welfare payments to single moms saying, “Why should we have to pay for these little sluts to live the high life? Let their own parents support them!!”

  7.  lower failure rates than commonly used birth control pills” My belief was that the pill, properly taken was 100% effective.

     

    Other drugs can interfere with the way the contraceptive pill works or something as simple as a bit of diarrhoea can stop the proper absorption of the active ingredients. 

     Why is the pregnancy rate so high when the morning-after pill is available; how costly is a one-shot fix?  

    I assume you mean the unintended pregnancy rate as many women get pregnant because they want to. I thought there were controls on the availability of the morning-after pill in the US.  

     Abortion is a gruesome business best avoided and women who justify it as “it’s my body” overlook the inconvenient truth that there is often another body involved…  

     

    Is there a medical procedure that isn’t best avoided ?  Done early I don’t see that abortion is anymore gruesome than many medical procedures.   At the time that the abortion is done there is not “another body” involved.  There is a bunch of cells attached to the women’s body.  If things develop properly that bunch of cells may one day be another body.  You may as well you and I corpses as you can guarantee that if things develop properly we will be one day.

    Michael

  8. I have been arguing this point since I was a teen. OBVIOUSLY the best way to reduce abortion is better contraception. So why are these idiot Catholics opposing birth control? They are acting at cross-purposes.
    This is the only conceivable middle ground — retire the abortion debate as all but moot.

  9. I have been arguing this point since I was a teen. OBVIOUSLY the best way to reduce abortion is better contraception. So why are these idiot Catholics opposing birth control? They are acting at cross-purposes.

    No, not when their goal to increase the number of births.  It’s all about choosing quantity of life over quality of life.

  10. There is whole army of medical experts whose aim is to
    enable birth control. Generally women are always those who need education on
    birth control, and who has to think on prevention. It is very ugly thing to say
    that women are guilty for 50 percent of unintended pregnancies in US, because
    she did not use contraception. „About
    half of these pregnancies result from women not using contraception and half
    from incorrect or irregular use“. What about men? What,…they are not
    guilty at all for those pregnancies? Protection? In one way or other women had
    to protect themselves from men, and their irresponsible actions, during history
    too many times. What about responsibility of a men? Why are not developed contraceptive
    pills for men, in so powerful medical laboratories? Is it so difficult? To develop
    a contraceptive pill for man is so hard that equals sending rocket to Jupiter? Do
    they not have to worry about leaving woman pregnant? Should not men be the ones
    who need to prevent their own sperm of fertilizing a women? Man ejaculate every
    time when it suits him. Even while sleeping. They are the ones who need to
    control their breeding material, and where they leave it. Most men have intercourse
    without a condom and they not even care where they leave their sperm. Would you
    call it responsibility? If they behave so irresponsible towards their breeding
    material, then the woman has a one hundred percent right to do whatever she
    wants with the consequences of such irresponsible behavior. It’s a hundred
    percent right to terminate a pregnancy if the man did not protect her from his
    own sperm. She can not fertilize herself. So, in order to protect themselves
    from irresponsible men women are forced to put into their own body different
    chemical products, whether oral or all sorts of implants. When would man take
    responsibility for their breeding material and the consequences of their
    immature behavior?

  11. SomeDude
    Every sperm is sacred.
    Every sperm is great.
    If just one is wasted.
    God gets quite irate.

    ..and pray that there’s intelligent life,
    somewhere up in space,
    because there’s bugger-all down here on Earth!

  12. The doctors have to assess whether the risk of terminating the pregnancy (all operations carry some risk) is lower than the risk of physical or psychological harm to the mother if the pregnancy continues. Since birth is statistically more dangerous than a medical abortion it is a bit of a “rubber stamp”.
    It is enshrined in law however as it prevents crtics from labelling it  as “abortion on demand” or claiming that it is used simply as a form of contraception.

  13. In the Netherlands birth control (at least the pill) is free until you are 21 years of age. Abortions are also covered. Some insurance companies also cover other options, and if they don’t the prices are fairly affordable, for example a spiral is about $300 and will cover you for 5 years.
    In addition, all schools teach about contraception and safe sex starting at age 12 or so.Unsurprisingly, we don’t have much of a problem with teen pregnancy.

  14. The male contraceptive pill is actually in development right now and expected to hit the market in a few years. But yes, it was far more complicated to build then the female version because of the different ways their reproductive organs work.

    As for condoms, that’s definately a shared responsibility. And since those are the only ones that prevent STDs, it’s very irresponsible on both sides to not use them.

  15.  LaurieB – in England when you collect prescription medication from the chemist you pay a small fee (currently £7.65 regardless of what the medication is or how much you get at a time) except for if the medication is for a child, if you’re over 60, if you’re pregnant, a few other things OR if the medication is contraception. Anything that has to be inserted or done surgically is also free of charge. This doesn’t apply to Scotland where there’s no prescription charge on anything. In Wales I think there still is one but it’s lower than the one in England. Not sure about Northern Ireland.

    There’s no charge for abortion either in England, Scotland or Wales. The law says you must have two doctors agree that you have a valid reason (e.g. your physical or mental health). In reality it’s basically abortion on demand. I don’t think women really get refused for not having a good reason. If doctors did refuse her (I’ve never heard or read about that happening) she could easily find some who wouldn’t. This doesn’t apply to Northern Ireland where abortion is mostly illegal.

    Roy72 – the morning after pill wouldn’t help if you were pregnant because it’s contraception.

  16. Well, in Holland, quite recently there was a debate, again, about whether or not ‘the pill’ should be a part of the mandatory health insurance package or not. Of course this discussion was instigated by the Christian parties who were all full of family values and such. Of course the insurance companies didn’t want this because the costs of pregnancy and hospitals are way higher than a life time supply of any type of contraceptive so their choice was easy, but still.
     
    Religious entities of what ever type all seem to want to grow and have control over people and both are met when you create families with a lot of children. Moreover, women that are bringing up babies are less likely to go out and protest because they literally have their hands full. Of course religious men can not help out in such families. They are to busy working to support his family. No protest from him too then. He’s too busy as well.
     
    Non of this is an accident.

  17.  Correction – no prescription charge in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Also I just learnt that 90% of prescriptions in England are exempted from the charge (because of age etc. etc.)

  18. Just north of the US border, one can buy the morning after pill off the shelf in a pharmacy except for Quebec where one needs a prescription. Public health plans and most private plans cover the cost. If you cant’ afford the $30, you can also get the pill at an emergency department at a hospital or from your GP.
    There are no legal restrictions on abortion in Canada however regulations and accessibility vary across the country. Abortions are covered by the publicly funded healthcare system, but not every province funds private clinics for abortions.

  19. “Is there a medical procedure that isn’t best avoided ?”
    There are some that are better *not* avoided; for example, colonoscopy. Colon cancer  is one of the most preventable causes of cancer death, and colonoscopy is a major factor in early diagnosis. The only way this test could be “best avoided” is if it were *not necessary*…

    “At the time that the abortion is done there is not ‘another body’
    involved.  There is a bunch of cells attached to the women’s body.  If
    things develop properly that bunch of cells may one day be another body.”
    This is true for first-trimester abortions; not so much partial-birth abortions. There is a continuum. Just saying…
    Steve

  20.  
     There are some that are better *not* avoided; for example, colonoscopy.

     

    Yes sorry I should have worded that better.  I was just thinking purely of the actual experience of the procedure.  I agree a colonoscopy is a wonderful diagnostic tool and it’s quite nice afterwards knowing that all those random aches and pains in your lower gut are not something nasty growing inside.  But the flushing your bowels out preparation for it is not something I would take on just for fun.

     
    There is a continuum. Just saying…

    Agree completely.  IMHO the continuum is the real issue.  So many people want to  take that continuum and fit a “Good” “Bad” model of ethics on it.  

    Michael

  21. go figure

    Yep, it don’t add up.

    Today folks will be lined up on sidewalks as part of the annual ‘Life Chain’ demonstration.  
    Wonder how they feel about contraception.  
    Ironic, today’s newspaper features the OP report and this church event.

    (edited to correct name of organization)

  22.  
    bluebird
    Yep, it don’t add up.

    Today folks will be lined up on sidewalks as part of the annual ‘Life Chain’ demonstration.

    There seems to be a “lying for delusion” turn out in Northern Ireland too, as “Pro-life”  campaigners protest outside a Family Planning Association office in Belfast’s Great Victoria Street on a daily basis.

    Marie Stopes Abortion Clinic To Open In Northern Ireland

    The first private clinic to offer abortions in Northern Ireland is to open in Belfast, with pro-choice campaigners describing the move as a “real step forward” but warning that the country still had “a long way to go.”

    Terminations, each costing £450, will be carried out at the new city centre clinic in line with Northern Ireland’s strict abortion laws.

    PA/Huffington Post UK  
    - http://www.huffingtonpost.co.u… – The location is being kept secret as the move has outraged pro-life campaigners

    http://i.huffpost.com/gen/8108

    Marie Stopes Director Dr Paula Franklin On Opening First Northern Ireland Clinic- http://www.huffingtonpost.co.u

    Pro-choice campaigners have welcomed the decision to open the clinic – http://i.huffpost.com/gen/8108

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