In a recent study that ran from 2008 to 2010, more than 9,000 women in St. Louis received free birth control. Many of these women were either poor or uninsured and were given the option to choose a form of birth control to use. Although several options of birth control were presented, the majority of the women picked the implanted birth control options which would normally cost hundreds of dollars to implant without insurance. According to Dr. Jeffrey Peipert of Washington University in St. Louis, these women experienced fewer unintended pregnancies.

The study showed there were 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers in the study, in comparison to 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 overall in the St. Louis region, Peipert calculated. That’s lower than the national rate, too, which is almost 20 abortions per 1,000 women.

Peipert’s team reported that one abortion could be prevented for every 79 to 137 women given free contraception. Currently the law requires that FDA-approved contraceptives be available for free for women enrolled in most workplace insurance plans. Many women, if not already, will notice this change in their health insurance plans January 1, 2013.

“We shouldn’t have, in my view, a tiered system where the women with money can get family planning and the women without cannot,” said Peipert, noting that 39 percent of the women in his study had trouble paying basic expenses.

Of course these views have been met with opposition. Jeanne Monahan of the conservative Family Research Council suggested contraceptive use can encourage riskier sexual behavior.

“Additionally, one might conclude that the Obama administration’s contraception mandate may ultimately cause more unplanned pregnancies since it mandates that all health plans cover contraceptives, including those that the study’s authors claim are less effective,” Monahan said.

Do you feel contraception should be free for all women, not just those with health insurance?

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