Shocker: Free Birth Control Means Fewer Abortions

<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com">mick20 </a>/Shutterstock

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Make sure you’re sitting down for this one: Free birth control leads to lower abortion rates and fewer teenage pregnancies.

I know.

That’s according to a new study published on Thursday by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis. The project gave free birth control to more than 9,000 local women and girls, many of whom were poor or uninsured, and tracked them for two years. There were 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers in the study group, compared to the 2010 national rate of 34 per 1,000. As for abortions, there were fewer than eight per 1,000 women in the study, compared with the almost 20 per 1,000 nationally.

“The impact of providing no-cost birth control was far greater than we expected,” Jeff Peipert, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University in St. Louis who co-authored the study, said in a statement.

Women’s health specialists say the study points to the potential impact of the Democrats’ health care reform bill, the Affordable Care Act, which mandates access to contraceptives without co-payments. The study’s authors say when this kind of program is deployed nationwide, more than 40 percent of the over 1 million abortions performed in the United States each year could be avoided.

Half (half!) of all pregnancies in this country are unwanted, way higher than in other developed countries, according to Scientific American. And about forty-three percent of those end in abortion. As the Associated Press reminds us, poor women are “far more likely to have an unplanned pregnancy than their wealthier counterparts.”

But what if free birth control just makes women into sluts? Jeanne Monahan of the anti-abortion Family Research Council told the AP that contraceptive use might make people have so much more sex that—since contraception sometimes doesn’t work—there will actually be more unwanted pregnancies. “One might conclude that the Obama administration’s contraception mandate may ultimately cause more unplanned pregnancies since it mandates that all health plans cover contraceptives, including those that the study’s authors claim are less effective,” she said.

Dr. James T. Breeden, the president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, is baffled by abortion foes’ opposition to contraception. He told the AP, “I would think if you were against abortions, you would be 100 percent for contraception access.”

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate