What benefits does contraception have for women and their families? More than you might realize.
Contraception helps young women postpone getting pregnant until they finish school or job training. It helps women and couples plan their childbearing, avoiding a pregnancy that follows too soon after a previous one—or one that occurs after a family is complete.
Women whose pregnancies are planned are more likely to receive timely prenatal care. They are less likely to smoke or drink during pregnancy, and more likely to breast-feed once their baby is born.
That’s why contraception is essential preventive health care. It makes for healthier mothers and children—and it reduces health care costs, like those associated with preterm births.
Contraceptive use is virtually universal in the United States. This is true for women of all races and religions, including Catholics and Evangelical Protestants.
Contraception is highly effective. Did you know that the two-thirds of women who use contraception consistently and correctly account for only 5% of all unintended pregnancies every year?
The much smaller groups who use contraception inconsistently—for instance because they forget to take their pills—and those who don’t use contraception at all, account for the vast majority of unintended pregnancies and the abortions that often follow.
That’s why we need to make it easier for every woman to choose the method that’s right for her. The typical American woman wants only two children. To achieve that goal, she will need to use contraception for about 30 years.
Some people say cost isn’t a problem because condoms are available in every drugstore. But, in reality, cost can be a major barrier to a woman’s choice of contraceptive method.
Even for a woman with health insurance, the pill can cost hundreds of dollars a year. And long-acting methods like the IUD and the implant—the most effective methods available—have even higher upfront costs.
But there is good news: Under the federal health care reform law, FDA-approved contraceptives will be covered in most health insurance plans without co-pays or deductibles as early as August 2012. The impact on women’s ability to plan the pregnancies they want—and prevent the ones they don’t—could be substantial.
But some are trying to roll back this major gain. That would be a huge loss for American women and families.
It’s been over four decades since the Supreme Court legalized contraception. Isn’t it time we stopped playing politics with contraception? Let’s instead see it as what it truly is—essential health care that benefits women, their partners and children, and society overall.