From the pages of Duh Online…

Study finds that free contraceptives lower the abortion rate.

Free birth control led to greatly lower rates of abortions and births to teenagers, a large study concludes, offering strong evidence for how a bitterly contested Obama administration policy could benefit women’s health. The two-year project tracked more than 9,000 women in St. Louis, many of them poor or uninsured, who were given their choice of a range of free contraceptives. These women experienced far fewer unintended pregnancies as a result, reported Dr. Jeffrey Peipert of Washington University in St. Louis in a study published Thursday. There were 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers in the study, compared with a national rate of 34 births per 1,000 teens in 2010. There also were substantially lower rates of abortion, when compared with women in the metro area and nationally: 4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women in the study, compared with 13.4 to 17 abortions per 1,000 women in the St. Louis region, Dr. Peipert calculated. The national rate is almost 20 abortions per 1,000 women. Women’s health specialists said the study foreshadows the potential impact of the new health care law, in which millions of women are beginning to get contraceptives without a co-payment.

Most thinking people are like, “Why is this news?”

People who have basic logical reasoning skills are like, “So this means that Obamacare will reduce the number of abortions.”

Prolifers are like, “LALALAALALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU.”

About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
This entry was posted in Health, Politics, Reproductive Rights and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to From the pages of Duh Online…

  1. jemima101 says:

    That contraception is not free in America truly shocks me, I do wonder why people allow the health care there, worse than many less developed countries I have visited.

  2. robotile says:

    I don’t know, I saw this study and thought that the key here was “human-error-proof” birth control. They weren’t offering pills, at least that was my understanding from the abstract. They were offering IUDs and other long-lasting forms of birth control to women who were up for them. So for a population highly motivated to prevent pregnancy long-term, yeah, I think free birth control will lower abortion rates a ton. But I’m guessing the effect will be more modest if you expand FREE! to a population of women who are less interested in long-term birth control options. Also, if I remember correctly the study sort of encouraged people to consider the long-term options over pills. I still think it should be free, but am not sure the effects will be so dramatic on a larger scale.

    • FarmerStina says:

      I can’t even count the number of women under the age of 30 that I know who either have or want IUDs or other long term birth control. Many of us can’t use the pill or find it expensive (especially if we have to pay out of pocket). Making IUDs or implants available to the general population at no cost would make a large impact in my circle of friends. I know of a few who can’t get IUDs, because their gynos won’t insert them in a woman who hasn’t had a child, and a few others who can’t afford the cost of the visit plus the IUD (around $400 or so). Even if the results were half as effective as those in the study, I still think it would be worthwhile to make these options free for all.

      • robotile says:

        Yeah, I think it should be free, not arguing with that. I just think these results are more impressive than you’d see if you apply it to the population as a whole.

      • Partial Human says:

        The whole point of LARCs though, is in their name. Long-acting Reversible Contraceptives.

        They’re not a contract that means you cannot choose to get pregnant, you’re. not tied to them for 3/5;10 years.

        What they do mean is that abusive partners can’t sabotage them, gastrointestinal distress can’t render. them ineffective, the antibiotics you’re taking for that sinus infection won’t stop you being protected, getting drunk and having a lowered sense of inhibition and risk awareness won’t leave you holding a positive pregnancy test.

        Those things, plus a million other “I fucked up my pills once and…” stories I could tell you from my work in sexual health, means it almost certainly would have a powerful impact in a country where 50% of pregnancies aren’t planned.

        Free LARCs on demand for anyone and everyone would save billions. Less welfare, lower healthcare costs, enhanced employee productivity/fewer sick days, and the biggest thing? Fewer unwanted babies. That’s only ever a good thing.

      • Lyndsay says:

        Unfortunately, the “reversible” part is often ignored. Personally, for quite a while I didn’t know that they were reversible and thought you had to commit to not being pregnant for five years. Anyone under this impresssion who might want to be pregnant in 3 years would choose the pill instead of an IUD.

    • thebluehaiku says:

      Just a factual correction – I can actually comment on this study since I was a participant in it a few years ago, as were many people I knew. You were given any method of birth control you wanted, not just IUDs. One of the objectives of the study was to see what people would choose if they were fully informed and cost wasn’t a barrier. I think they correlated the choices with people’s preferences. Many people I knew didn’t choose the long term options.

      • robotile says:

        The author of the paper said in one of the articles that mothers were encouraged to choose the longer-term forms. It wasn’t just an “oh what would you like?” choice. The study participants went through some sort of education process that likely would not occur in your average obgyn office. Also, most women who use contraception are older, and therefore may decide that implanting an IUD or getting a shot isn’t worth it for the amount of time they definitely don’t want to get pregnant. As a result, the general population probably wouldn’t choose long-term BCP so frequently as this one. That’s all I’m saying. Here’s a quote from one of the articles.

        Several factors contributed to the declines, he argued. First, a large majority of the women in the study were encouraged — and chose — to use intrauterine devices, or IUDs, and hormonal implants over more commonly used birth control pills.

        . Here’s one article.

      • robotile says:

        Here’s a link to the abstract:

        Contraceptive counseling included all reversible methods but emphasized the superior effectiveness of LARC methods (IUDs and implants).

      • PrettyAmiable says:

        Oh, I was too! Small world. Only good thing to come out of my time in STL, unfortunately.

    • matlun says:

      There is also the issue of the counseling itself. Other studies have shown that better information and education about contraceptives also tend to lead to fewer unwanted pregnancies. (Which is also kind of “duh” news…)

      I guess you could have tried to isolate the effect of the free contraceptives in the research. Eg after the counseling you would have tossed a coin. Head, you get the free contraception. Tails, you have to pay for them if you want them. Then you compare outcomes for the two groups. A bit harsh, but more scientifically stringent.

    • Lyndsay says:

      Yeah, what I wanted to know was if they offered the women the pill for five years and how long they followed the women for. If I don’t have much money, I’m going to go for the method that lasts the longest. In fact, that’s what I did when I was living in the UK but wasn’t sure for how long. I will note that despite free birth control, the UK has a relatively high teen pregnancy rate.

      • PrettyAmiable says:

        Lyndsay, it was for the length of the study (so three years per woman) and as long as you were in the STL area. I chose the ring. I actually have no idea what happens in the fifth year for women who chose IUDs and need them out (not because they hadn’t thought it through, but because it wasn’t relevant to my choice).

        Here’s the link for the main site: http://www.choiceproject.wustl.edu/

  3. robotile says:

    As an aside, I love how Pro-life rhetoric is both “DEMOGRAPHIC WINTER–WE ARE CONTRACEPTING OURSELVES OUT OF EXISTENCE” and “contraceptives are SOO ineffective, you might as well not use them anyways.”

    • Bagelsan says:

      Clearly the only answer is that god wants rich white people to die out, so he only makes contraception fail for other people. :D

  4. TomSims says:

    a penny saved is a penny earned

  5. sheriji says:

    Most thinking people are like, “Why is this news?”

    I know, right?

    People who have basic logical reasoning skills are like, “So this means that Obamacare will reduce the number of abortions.”

    I know, right?

    Prolifers are like, “LALALAALALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU.”

    hahahahahahahahaha!

    (But not funny, really. Isn’t this how many people respond to things they have not actually thought about, and don’t have an actual answer to? Alas. Way too many of MFA’s.)

  6. Superdaisy says:

    Guys, we really need to improve science and math education in this country. From that prolife “article”:

    Of those 43 percent [of parous participants], 50 percent said that their unintended pregnancies had occurred as the result of failed birth control (i.e. a ripped condom or not taking their birth control pill regularly).

    In other words, contraceptives used in real time (not in theory) have a 50% failure rate.

    Let’s fix that for her: Of the 43% of women who had an unintended pregnancy at some point in their lives, 50% said that the pregnancy occured as the result of failed birth control. Contraceptives used in real time (not in crazyland theory) have a ~5% failure rate over one year.

    In other words, Jill Stanek’s facts in real time (not in rational land) are 100% wrong.

    • doberman says:

      Incredible. Such a failure of logic and math I’d almost have to believe that quote to be a parody.

    • matlun says:

      Ridiculous statistics failure. The quoted information does not include enough information to say much at all about the failure rate. It could even be 100% “failure rate” (if no women outside the failure group has ever successfully used any contraceptive and you use the implied definition of lifetime failure rate).

      Regarding your 5% figure, however: Not surprisingly, the yearly failure rate depends hugely on the type of contraceptive and how well you use it. It can be considerably worse or better than 5%

      • Superdaisy says:

        Yeah, I was taking a rough average of the 92% efficacy of pills and ring with the 99.9% efficacy of Implanon and IUDs. It’s still closer than 50% though!

  7. Stella says:

    Maybe unwanted pregnancies is something very wanted by the architects of the country. God forbid if there are less children and less people in the future, to keep worker cheap in line and easily replaceable.

    Feudalism did not end because it was overwhelmed by the masses. The start of the end of feudalism happened after the black plague in Europe, when the supply of working hands was sharply diminished and put those who were left in a position to negotiate better conditions with their rulers.

    • Stella says:

      What I am implying is, that those who fight abortion and contraception do not do so out of religious motives, but out of economic-strategic motives, to have an army of unemployed to keep wages low and of course enough warm bodies for military service.

  8. Chataya says:

    Now if only some of us could find doctors willing to give us our preferred method of birth control.

  9. Egalitarian says:

    I agree, which is why obamacare should also require vasectomies to be free, as the men’s rights movement advocates.

    Birth control is a human issue, not a women’s issue.

    • Jill says:

      I don’t think you’ll find anyone here who disagrees with you.

      What you will find are people who are irritated by MRAs coming onto every thread and derailing by being like, “LET’S TALK ABOUT ME NOW!”

      • Stella says:

        Maybe there would be more support if the 2 would be put together and the thing becomes a human issue, instead of only a womens issue, which the average male sadly could care less about.

      • doberman says:

        Maybe there would be more support if the 2 would be put together and the thing becomes a human issue, instead of only a womens issue, which the average male sadly could care less about.

        If you think the average male cares out vasectomies then you even understand less about men than you think.

        Frankly I find your view rather misandric. Men don’t need to be coddled or tricked into supporting women’s issues by conflating them with men’s issues. Men will make up there own minds as to whether they support women’s issues or not, and the majority of men are not ignorant of these things.

    • EG says:

      God forbid it be an icky women’s issue. It could get covered with girl cooties.

      Who cares if women disproportionately bear the burden of contraception, abortion, pregnancy, childbirth, and the resulting child or anything? There’s a penis issue here!

      • J says:

        Because penis issues can’t also be women’s issues. Not like there’s women with penises or anything

      • EG says:

        Go look at the comment I was replying to and get back to me. Egalitarian was not reminding us that vasectomies are also a women’s issue. Are you suggesting that when I mock the attitudes of MRAs, I should make sure to imply that they are concerned about the needs of trans women? Because I would not give them the benefit of that particular doubt.

      • DonnaL says:

        Even if I took J’s alleged concern for trans women as legitimate (which I don’t), there’s hardly a great demand for vasectomies among trans women with their original anatomy. Any trans woman in the process of medical transition — even assuming that she has an interest in PIV sex, and, therefore, is concerned about birth control — will become sterile within months of beginning hormonal treatment, if not sooner.

      • Egalitarian says:

        God forbid it be an icky women’s issue. It could get covered with girl cooties.

        Who cares if women disproportionately bear the burden of contraception, abortion, pregnancy, childbirth, and the resulting child or anything? There’s a penis issue here!

        Well, if vasectomies are required to be free for men as progressive MRAs advocate, women will bear less of the burden of contraception, won’t they?

        If an issue impacts both men and women, it shouldn’t be regarded as a “women’s issue” as if men shouldn’t be concerned about it. If anything, men should be encouraged to take an interest in birth control.

        I do not want to have a child, so contraception is important to me. I recently looked at my health plan for next year, and sterilization for women is 100% covered. On the other hand, if I get a vasectomy, I will have to pay the full cost until I reach my deductible, after which it is covered at the plan’s normal rate (less than 100%). This is clear sexism, and I will not apologize for advocating for equality.

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  13. Sara Lin Wilde says:

    Prolifers are like, “LALALAALALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU.”

    Well, some of them. I had the misfortune of encountering the Lifesite news article where they argue that free birth control INCREASES abortions because birth control IS abortion.

    It’s scary how it makes “LALALAALALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU” seem like the reasonable response.

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