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New Study on Birth Control Use Shows That, When Fully Implemented, the Affordable Care Act Could Dramatically Reduce Unintended Pregnancy in the U.S.
New data shows that providing no-cost birth control and promoting the use of highly effective contraceptive methods can significantly reduce unintended pregnancy, and in turn can lead to a reduction in the abortion rate. Planned Parenthood Federation of America said today that the data shows that the Affordable Care Act can make major strides in reducing unintended pregnancy and abortion, once it is fully implemented. IUDs and contraceptive implants without a co-pay are part of the promise of full Affordable Care Act implementation.
The Contraceptive CHOICE study was published online in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. Led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis with assistance from researchers at Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, the CHOICE Project is a four-year study of more than 9,200 women and teens who received education about types of birth control and full coverage of costs of the methods they selected. In this regard, the project simulates the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit, which provides contraception without co-pays.
The researchers estimate that national simulation of the CHOICE project could prevent 41-71 percent of abortions performed annually in the U.S. Birth rates among teens in the CHOICE study were less than a fifth of the national rate (6.3 per 1,000, compared to 34.3 per 1,000 teens in 2010) and abortion rates among women were less than half the regional and national rates (4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women compared to 19.6 per 1,000 women).
“These findings show that when women have full information about available birth control methods, and when cost is not a barrier, many will choose IUDs or implants — which are the most effective reversible forms of contraception approved by the FDA.” said Planned Parenthood Vice President of External Medical Affairs Dr. Vanessa Cullins, who provided oversight of Planned Parenthood’s participation at the time the study was initiated. “Increasing access to birth control will improve the health of women, families and communities across the country. Planned Parenthood is committed to this goal.”
“This study shows that the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit can dramatically reduce the need for abortion in the U.S. once it is fully implemented,” said Dana Singiser, vice president of public policy and government relations for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “To prevent unintended pregnancy, women need full information, full coverage and full choice for what type of birth control works best for them.”
For the CHOICE study, more than 9,200 participants were recruited from area health centers, from abortion providers and through flyers, advertising and word mouth. Simulating the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit requirement, researchers allowed women and adolescents to select from the full range of Food and Drug Administration approved birth control options and receive their method of choice at no cost. Types of birth control included oral contraceptives, the patch, ring, shot and long-acting reversible contraceptive methods (LARC), such as IUDs and implants.
Women and adolescents were educated about the difference between types of birth control, including LARCs, which studies have shown to be highly effective, safe and to have high satisfaction and continuation rates. As a result, 75 percent of participants chose LARC, a much greater rate than originally predicted. IUDs and implants are more than 99 percent effective and can provide protection for 3 to 12 years depending on method.
“Increasing access to the most effective contraceptive methods by removing cost and access as barriers has greatly increased the number of adolescents and women in the St. Louis region using the most effective methods of birth control,” said researchers in the published paper. Providing no-cost contraception and access to highly effective contraceptive methods has the potential to reduce unintended pregnancies in the United States, they concluded.