Providing birth control methods at no cost significantly reduced unplanned pregnancies and abortion rates, in a study of more than 9000 women reported by investigators at Washington University Hospital in St. Louis. It was published on line in the Oct. 4, 2012 issue of the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.1 The effect among teenagers [ages 15-19] reduced pregnancies to 6.3 births per 1000, compared to the 2010 rate among teenagers of 34 births per 1000. The abortion rates of all the women in the study were 7.5 per 1000. This was much lower than the 13.4-17 per 1000 rate in the greater St. Louis area and also than the national rate of almost 20 abortions per 1000 women2.

The lead author, Dr. Jeff Piepert is quoted as saying; “the impact of providing no-cost birth control was far greater than we expected in terms of unintended pregnancies. We think improving access to birth control, particularly IUD’s 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 country1”.

The women in the study were counseled on the different methods approved and available for pregnancy prevention. These included the shorter acting ones, such as the birth control pill, along with longer acting methods such as IUD [intrauterine devices] and implantable ones. All of these options were free to the study participants, in contrast to many options currently available in health insurance plans. So the women in the study, after counseling, overwhelmingly chose the more effective methods, the IUD or implants which have a 1% failure rate. This is in contrast to the shorter acting methods which have a reported failure rate of 8-10 %. The more effective options are unaffordable for many women because they have higher upfront costs that are not covered.

IPPA emphasizes that this study convincingly demonstrates how important is the new provision in the Affordable Health Care Act [Obamacare,(AHC)]that all FDA approved contraceptive methods will be available for no cost to women enrolled in workplace insurance plans. It can be effective in reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortions all across the country. IPPA stresses that those of us who are really serious in wanting a much lower abortion rate in this country, should strongly support the AHC. It will provide free and accessible, safe and approved pregnancy prevention methods for many women of reproductive age.


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