Recent Study Highlights Importance Of Protecting Birth Control Access

A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health revealed that the abortion rate in the United States decreased by 25 percent from 2008 to 2014, in large part due to improved access to contraception.

The study, titled “Population Group Abortion Rates and Lifetime Incidence of Abortion: United States, 2008–2014,” was co-authored by Guttmacher Institute researchers Rachel Benson Gold and Kinsey Hasstedt, and compiled with data from Abortion Patient Survey, the American Community Survey and the National Survey of Family Growth to estimate abortion rates.

The study found that there were 19.4 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 in 2008, but by 2014, the abortion rate had dropped to 14.6 per 1,000 women within the same age group.

These results come at a time when the Trump administration continues to ramp up its attack on women’s health care. As Gold and Hasstedt explained in an American Journal of Public Health editorial about the study:

“Never in its history has the nation’s family planning safety net been in such jeopardy as it is today. The policy agendas of the Trump administration, Congress, and many states are being shaped by leaders adamant in their ideological opposition to — and intent to dismantle — the funding streams and providers that have long constituted the US publicly funded family planning effort,” the editorial asserts.

The Guttmacher Institute’s research, as the co-authors note, shows that in 2015, a total of 6.2 million women received publicly-funded contraceptive that prevented an estimated 1.3 million unintended pregnancies, which in turn prevented  453,400 would-be abortions. Gold and Hasstedt conclude that without accessible birth control, unintended pregnancies would be 67 percent higher than current data reflects. 

Study shows access to birth control options lowers abortion rate.

Birth control protects women’s health and helps women plan their families and their futures. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) ensures that women have access to affordable and effective contraception, in part by requiring most health insurance plans to cover birth control with no cost-sharing. But new Trump administration birth control rules are threatening that. The rule allows bosses and universities to use religion to deny their employees and students access to contraception, which is discrimination, plain and simple.

It’s highly ironic that Religious Right and ultra-orthodox Catholic groups, which strongly oppose legal abortion, are blocking access to the one thing proven to reduce the abortion rate. At Americans United, we know that women’s equality will only be achieved when all women can choose to prevent most unwanted pregnancies with affordable and accessible contraception.

That’s why Americans United will be fighting the new birth control rules in court. We'll tell the court that Trump's birth control rule violates the U.S. Constitution and harms women's health.

Americans United has already been fighting in court to ensure that religion isn’t used as an excuse to deny access to birth control. We filed friend-of-the-court briefs in multiple cases that challenged the ACA’s requirement to cover birth control. And in one case, University of Notre Dame v. Price, Americans United represented students who would lose their contraception coverage under the new regulations.

We will continue to fight – in court and in the policy arena – to make sure these students, and all women like them, have affordable, seamless access to contraception. Women’s health and equality and religious freedom are at stake.

To learn more about how we fight against discrimination in the name of religion, check out our Protect Thy Neighbor project.