US: Free birth control slashes abortion rates
October 17th 2012
What would happen if women at risk for unintended pregnancies received the birth control of their choice - especially the more effective kinds - at no cost? The [US] national abortion rate would plummet, according to a study conducted by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis and published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology on Thursday [4 October]. The researchers enrolled 9,256 women from the St Louis region into the Contraceptive Choice Project between August 2007 and September 2011. The women were aged 14 to 45, with an average age of 25, and many were poor and uninsured with low education. Nearly two-thirds had had an unintended pregnancy previously. Participants were either not using a reversible contraception method or willing to switch to a new one.
Researchers provided free, FDA-approved birth control to the women for three years. The women were given their choice of contraception, including oral birth control pills and long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods like implants and IUDs. The researchers specially briefed the participants on the ‘superior effectiveness’ of LARC methods - the T-shaped IUD, or intrauterine device, has close to 100% effectiveness and can last five to 10 years, for instance - and 75% of women chose those devices over the pill, patch or ring. Over the course of the study, which lasted from 2008 to 2010, women experienced far fewer unintended pregnancies than expected: there were 4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women in the study, after adjusting for age and race - much fewer than the national rate of 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women and lower also than the rate in the St. Louis area of 13.4 to 17 abortions per 1,000 women. The effect of free contraception on the teen birth rate was remarkable: there were 6.3 births per 1,000 girls aged 15 to 19 in the study, compared with the national rate of 34.3 births per 1,000 teen girls.
Read the full article: Time Healthland
More about reproductive health