A new study by the Washington University in St. Louis indicates that when women have access to free birth control, they have fewer pregnancies, which results in fewer abortion.
According to the Associated Press, the study followed more than 9,000 women in the St. Louis area who were given their choice of a range of free birth control options from condoms, to the pill, to implants. It found that women gravitated toward the most effective methods, the implanted devices, that usually cost more money up front. The study found that those women had far fewer unintended pregnancies than the general population.
CBS reports the study showed 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers among the women followed, substantially lower than the 34 births per 1,000 teens the nation saw in 2010. The abortion rate was lower too, at nearly 10 less abortions per 1,000.
“The impact of providing no-cost birth control was far greater than we expected in terms of unintended pregnancies,” lead author Jeff Peipert of the Washington University School of Medicine told AFP.
Peipert did acknowledge, however, that increasing access to birth control is not a cure all, and will not completely stop people from having unintended pregnancies.
“Contraception only works when you keep using it,” Peipert said. “There are gaps in people’s contraceptive use and that’s when they get pregnant.”
The only form of birth control known to be 100 percent effective is abstinence, but the Peipert said that availability of free birth control devices could have a substantial economic impact. He said US taxpayers pay somewhere around $11 billion a year in costs associated with unplanned pregnancies.
The study comes at a providential time for supporters of President Barack Obama’s health reform, which expanded access to birth control by mandating insurance companies to eliminate co-pays on contraception. The law has angered multiple religious groups and employers who oppose the notion of paying for contraception when it is something they do not support.
A work-around compromise suggested by the Obama administration wherein insurance companies, instead of objecting businesses, pay for the contraception, has not quelled the dissent and the mandate continues to face legal challenges from various groups.
What are your thoughts on free birth control?