Good news: A national drop in unintended pregnancies | Arkansas Blog

Monday, March 7, 2016

Good news: A national drop in unintended pregnancies

Posted By on Mon, Mar 7, 2016 at 6:42 AM

Vox reports in depth on an encouraging trend — a sharp drop in unintended pregnancies, a shift attributed to better contraceptives.
Unintended pregnancies fell 18 percent between 2008 and 2011 — the steepest decline in decades — and it's largely because women are choosing better, more effective birth control.

The reason, say researchers:

Women are picking better, more effective birth control. Since 2007, researchers have seen a sharp rise in long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), such as intrauterine devices and implants. These forms of birth control last for years once inserted and prevent pregnancy for more than 99 percent of users. That helps explain why they're a big part of the story behind America's plummeting unintended pregnancy rate.

Fewer unintended pregnancies mean fewer abortions, which you might think would be good news even for the hard-core anti-abortion movement. But .....

One of the biggest obstacles to LARC use, historically, has been price. Planned Parenthood has estimated that IUDs can cost between $500 and $900 out of pocket. Insurance plans tended to charge patients more for IUDs than for birth control pills, just because the devices have such high upfront costs.

Obamacare is changing that in two ways. The law's insurance expansion means millions more Americans now have coverage, and that will help pay their medical bills. Additionally, Obamacare mandates that insurers cover all contraceptives at no cost to patients. This means that insurers can't charge patients more for an IUD because the device costs more than birth control pills.

There's already evidence that this regulation has lowered financial barriers to LARCs. A 2015 study in the journal Health Affairs found that Obamacare's birth control mandate reduced out-of-pocket spending on IUDs by $248 per patient.
Many objections have been raised to Obamacare precisely because some have religious objections to coverage of contraception, including conventional contraception that indisputably works before conception. Colorado's conservative legislators defunded a program that had demonstrated success in reducing pregnancy through long-acting contraceptives.

As we noted when the Arkansas legislature took up a bill to address the state's high teen pregnancy rate, conservative Republicans were careful to ensure it included a mention of abstinence education — a proven failure in discouraging pregnancy — and it also failed to mention contraception as part of collegiate action plans.

Effective contraception prevents abortion. Pass it on.

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