A recent study by Dr. Jeffrey Peipert of Washington University in St. Louis indicates that free birth control leads to dramatically lower rates of abortions and teen births. Regardless of which side of the abortion fence you stand on, this sort of information cannot just be ignored.
I have never and still don't accept the assertion of many less conservative folks that we just can't control our biological urges or that we need to hand out condoms and birth control pills in grade schools. But, I do believe the results of this study should be carefully considered.
Dr. Peipert's study tracked more than 9,000 women in St. Louis, many of them poor or uninsured who were given their choice of a range of contraceptive methods at no cost ... from birth control pills to IUDs or implants.
When provided for free, the women overwhelmingly chose the most effective contraceptives (the implanted options), which typically cost hundreds of dollars. And, significantly, the women experienced far fewer unintended pregnancies as a result.
According to the AP, reporting on this study, nearly half of the nation's 6 million+ pregnancies each year are "unintended." An estimated 43% of these "accidental pregnancies" end in abortion. That's a LOT of abortions. I cannot help thinking that avoiding these "accidents" is a better solution. Even if it means putting some of my money towards sponsoring the insertion of a few IUDs.
The study indicates there actually were substantially lower rates of abortion among the sample population when compared with women in the St. Louis area and nationally: 4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women in the study, compared to 13.4 to 17 abortions per 1,000 women overall in the St. Louis region. The national rate is almost 20 abortions per 1,000 women.
Dr. Peipert's team proposed in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology that, if the program were expanded, one abortion could be prevented for every 79 to 137 women given a free contraceptive choice. I don't know about you, but I find it hard to be anti-abortion and not be for this idea.
Not only would free contraception prevent abortions, it would help prevent one of the very things abortion proponents like to throw up as a reason to have abortions: unwanted children and children born to mothers who can't care for them.
Statistically, low-income women are far more likely to have unplanned pregnancies than wealthy women. Possibly due to the cost of contraceptives, I'd imagine. Now, you can look at this any way you want, but I'm going to say it: Fewer poor people is a good thing. I'm not saying we should exterminate poor people. I'm saying we should help poor people avoid creating more poor people. The side effect being that poor people are slightly better off when they have fewer mouths to feed.
That may sounds a little cold, but to me it's a helluva lot less cold than killing off poor people in the womb. . . (Again, if you haven't followed my commentary, I believe life begins at conception. Thus, I'm necessarily against abortion in the vast majority of cases.)
There's another facet to this gem: free contraception helps prevent teen pregnancies.
Whether we like to think about it or not, our daughters are "doing it." And, while most of us don't want to encourage our little girls to become tramps, it's hard to ignore the numbers this study presents. There were "only" 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers in the study. That's a fraction of the national rate of 34 births per 1,000 teens in 2010. I won't be driving my daughter to the clinic for an IUD today. But, my daughter has some friends and classmates who would very likely benefit from the availability of free contraception. If their parents don't care, who am I to say they shouldn't use it? Those girls (and their boyfriends) are going to do it anyway. I'd rather see them finish school than end up pregnant their sophomore year.
"Obamacare" requires that FDA-approved contraceptives be available for free to women enrolled in most workplace insurance plans. This is probably the new health care law's most contentious requirement because it forces religious-affiliated organizations to provide contraceptive coverage for their workers even if those organizations oppose contraception.
I'm not in favor of forcing anyone to pay for contraception if it violates their beliefs. Forcing this on organizations or individuals through Federal law is the wrong approach. But, I'm all for making contraception available to those who cannot afford it. If that means donating money to charitable organizations who provide contraceptives, we should do that.
Those who oppose abortion must consider this study and put our money where our mouths are.