Here’s news that everyone should hail – but probably won’t.
A new study conducted among thousands of women in St. Louis, Mo., shows that providing free birth control pays off in a big way – with fewer abortions and unwanted births.
When given access to the free contraception of their choice, women and teenagers in the study often opted for the most effective, most foolproof method – an implant or IUD that is good for years. Those methods are often beyond reach for low-income or uninsured women, so they tend to rely on cheaper, less effective methods – or nothing at all.
Abortion rates plummeted for women in the study given free birth control: 4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women compared with 13.4 to 17 abortions per 1,000 women overall in the St. Louis region and almost 20 abortions per 1,000 women nationally.
The results were particularly impressive in decreasing births among teenage girls in the study, with only 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers compared to a national rate of 34 births per 1,000.
What’s the takeaway here? Shouldn’t everyone see this as good news?
You might think so, but many abortion opponents also oppose giving away contraceptives – or providing them at all to teenagers – arguing that it encourages extramarital sex. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but the priority should be preventing unwanted pregnancy – which leads to all sorts of attendant costs, not only in lost human potential but also in additional health and welfare expenses to taxpayers.
Providing free access to the most effective contraception looks like a good way to get there.
Here’s the Associated Press article about the study, which came out Thursday. Read more »