To Slash the Abortion Rate, Dole Out Birth-Control Pills a Year at a Time
Time magazine has an article out this week detailing the results of a study that conclude that when women are allowed to stockpile contraceptives, the rates of accidental pregnancies and abortions go way down. Time states, “The study’s publication online this week in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology is timely; it comes out as the U.S. Congress is debating the Title X program, the federal family planning program that serves millions of low-income women each year.”
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), saw a 46% decline in the odds of an abortion and a 30% decrease in the odds of pregnancy when low-income women who relied on public programs for contraception received a one-year supply of birth control pills instead of the usual one- or three-month stash. Picking up a 12-month supply in one clinic visit does away with the need for multiple clinic visits, making it easier for women to stick to their birth-control regimen. Because let’s face it: schlepping to a clinic or pharmacy each month for a new pack of pills is a pain. It’s actually more than an inconvenience, argues lead author Diana Greene Foster; it’s dangerous, akin to not wearing seatbelts. “Having sex without using a method of birth control is one of many kinds of risks people take in their lives, like driving too fast or driving without a seatbelt,” says Foster, associate professor in UCSF’s department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences. “If seatbelts were given out as piecemeal as contraception, few people would use them.”
About 1,300 pregnancies and 30 abortions would have been avoided had the 65,000 women in the study who got either one or three packs of pills at a time experienced the same number of pregnancies and abortions as those who got a year’s supply. “It’s a cost-savings thing, but it’s also a quality-0f-care issues – and it’s the right thing to do,” she says. “People don’t stop having sex when their pills run out.”
The study concludes: Making oral contraceptives more accessible may reduce the incidence of unintended pregnancy and abortion. Health insurance programs and public health programs may avert costly unintended pregnancies by increasing dispensing limits on oral contraceptives to a 1-year supply.
Yes, “schlepping” to the pharmacy may be a hassle. And why give a woman on public assistance a year’s prescription when, hopefully, she will be off public assistance in less than a year? Guess taking personal responsibility is too inconvenient.
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