Fewer abortions associated with free birth control program

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A new study by investigators at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, published online Oct. 4, links free birth control to lower abortion rates. 

The researchers say free birth control had a ‘far-greater’ impact than expected, in a press release. The study is published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology Gynecology.

Jeff Peipert, MD, PhD, the Robert J. Terry Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said in a news release:

 “We think improving access to birth control, particularly IUDs 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 background information from the study, approximately 50% of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned – a statistic that is much higher than other developed countries.

Women enrolled in The Contraceptive Choice Project in the St. Louis area between 2007 and 2011 were given their choice of birth control methods including IUDs, implants or   shorter-acting methods such as birth control pills, patches and rings. Enrolled in the study were 9,256 wmen and adolescents,age 14 to 45 who were at high risk for unplanned pregnancies.

All of the women were counseled on the effectiveness and types available birth control methods, with emphasis on those that work best– which is IUD’s and implants. Seventy-five percent of the women opted for implants or IUD’s.

The abortion rate among the women in the study from 2008 to 20120 was 4.4 to 7.5 per 1,000 women, which is a drop from the national 2008 average of 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women, which is the most recent year the statistics are available. 

Birth control with IUD’s and implants work better, say the authors. Yet, many women can’t afford them. The cost can be up to $800 and many insurance plans don’t provide coverage. The result is that few women choose to use them.

It’s also important to note that the study found an association, but did not prove that access to free birth control was directly responsible for cutting abortion rates. 

Washington State University News
October 4, 2012