Here's some absolutely shocking news for all you abstinence supporters and abortion fighters out there: Women who use birth control have fewer unplanned pregnancies and fewer abortions than women who don't. Common sense might have told you that, but now it's been scientifically proven by researchers at Washington University!
Alert readers may recall Dr. Jeff Peipert, an OB/Gyn prof who ran a study called the Contraceptive CHOICE Project from 2007 to 2011, of the effectiveness of various forms of birth control. Back in May, Peipert reported that, after crunching the numbers, he and his team had determined that IUD's and implants are the best methods for preventing accidental pregnancies.
Now, after looking at the numbers some more, they've realized that the 9,526 women in the study, all between 14-45 years old, all from St. Louis, all of whom had been provided with free birth control, had, between 2008 and 2010, abortion rates of 4.4 to 7.5 per 1,000. The national average is 19.6 per 1,000. That means women who used birth control had abortion rates of 62 to 78 percent below the national average. (In St. Louis, the abortion rate between 2008 and 2010 averaged 15 per 1,000.)
"The impact of providing no-cost birth control was far greater than we expected in terms of unintended pregnancies," says Peipert. "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 country." According to data from the National Survey of Family Growth, half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, from either non-use or misuse of birth control. Of those pregnancies, 43 percent end in abortion. That still leaves one million newborns. Caring for them costs U.S. taxpayers nearly $11 billion annually.
Not surprisingly, the rate of unplanned pregnancies is much higher among teenagers, many of whom don't have ready access to birth control and fewer resources for good prenatal care and for taking care of their babies once they're born. Among girls 15-19, the live birth rate is 34.3 per 1,000. Among participants in the study in the same age range, the average annual birth rate was 6.3 per 1,000.
Hey guess what? This shit works!
Unfortunately, there's a wrinkle in the Contraceptive CHOICE Project: All the participants received their birth control for free. (Costs were covered, Peipert told Daily RFT, by a large corporation that wishes to remain anonymous.) In the real world, the Pill, Patch and Nuva Ring, depending on your insurance plan, can cost $80 a month, while implants and IUD's, cost $1,000 upfront to, uh, implant, though they can last as long as ten years. Try paying for that if you're young, or poor, or uneducated.
This isn't a problem Peipert's research can solve. Is there a possibility, though, that it could prove persuasive to legislators and insurance companies?
The study will appear in the December issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.