Hailed as one of the major breakthroughs of the 20th century, birth control has come under attack by conservatives nationwide. If you find yourself going toe-to-toe with an opponent of contraception, consider pointing out the following facts.
We need birth control:
- Birth control is already a near-universal practice. In fact, 99% of women who’ve had sex have used contraceptives at some point, and some 60% of all women of reproductive age are currently using a contraceptive method.
- Opponents of contraceptive coverage are in the minority. In a NPR–Thompson Reuters poll, 77% of respondents said that private insurance plans should cover some or all of the cost of birth control pills. If the plan is subsidized by the government, 74% of respondents thought it should cover some or all of the cost.
- Women who’ve used birth control pills have been found to have fewer cases of anemia, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer.
- Using oral contraception can help prevent or reduce the occurrence of ovarian cysts and cystic acne.
Why birth control is important:
- Nearly half of all pregnancies among women in the U.S. are unplanned. Of these, 4 in 10 end in abortion. Preventing unplanned pregnancy through access to affordable birth control is key to lowering abortion rates nationwide.
- It’s cost-effective! In 2010, total public expenditures on unplanned pregnancies were estimated to be $21 billion. Alternatively, current family planning services—like contraception and STI testing—save taxpayer dollars, improve the lives of women and families, and reduce the rate of abortion.
- Access to contraception empowers women and families. Women can use birth control to time and space births, have healthier pregnancies, and better take care of themselves and their families.
- Birth control is also a game-changer for women’s health. Certain forms of hormonal contraception can prevent ovarian cysts, cancers, and treat debilitating symptoms of PMS, PCOS, or endometriosis.
- Access to free birth control leads to lower abortion rates and fewer teenage pregnancies, according to an extensive study from Washington University in St. Louis.
- The teenage pregnancy rate in New York declined a whopping 71% between 1991 and 2016. Health Commissioner Tom Farley has attributed the change, in part, to the provision of contraceptives in public schools.
Birth control and health insurance:
- Currently, under the Affordable Care Act, 55 million women receive coverage for birth control without any out-of-pocket costs, including oral contraception, vaginal contraceptive rings, and hormonal intrauterine devices (IUD).
- The ACA sought to expand access to contraception by making it an Essential Health Benefit of all health insurance plans. This mandate states that all plans must provide coverage for at least one form of birth control without any cost-sharing. This provision is under attack, with employers and insurers seeking exemptions on “religious or moral” objections.