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LIFELONG HEALTH- Free Contraceptives Cut Teen Abortions in Study PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr. David Lipschitz   
Thursday, 01 November 2012 04:55

Whether you believe in a woman's right to choose or not, reducing the number of abor-tions is as commendable a goal as avoiding unintended preg-nancies. This particularly applies to women who are too young or, for any other reason, not ready to become a parent.

According to a paper pub-lished in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 49 percent of all pregnancies in the United States between 2006 and 2008 were unin-tended. And the cost is high — $11 billion annually for every 1 million unintended births.

Because of the high preva-lence of teen pregnancy, a con-certed education effort has been under way to encourage responsibility, abstinence and the importance of contracep-tion. Between 1990 and 2008, teen pregnancies fell by 40 per-cent, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Pregnancy rates during that period also declined in women in their 20s and increased in women in their 30s and 40s.

These days, planned pregnan-cies are occurring later and later. In 2008, there were 4.24 million new births, 1.2 million abortions and 1.1 million spon-taneous fetal losses. Most encouraging is the continued decline in birthrates for girls between the ages of 15 and 19. In 2011 that number decreased to 31.3 births per 1,000 teens, compared to 34.2 births per 1,000 teens in 2010.

Currently, the teen birthrates for all ages and all ethnic groups are at historic lows. Sadly in 2011, 88.5 percent of all teen births were to unwed mothers. The reduction in teen pregnancy is thought to repre-sent better education, absti-nence and easier access to con-traception.

While there has been a decline in unwanted pregnan-cies, in recent years there has been an assault on contracep-tion by many groups who claim it promotes promiscuity and is no better than an abortion.

Sandra Brown, chief execu-tive officer of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancies, said, "I can't remember a time when contraception has been so mis-characterized and maligned."

This is a serious concern. We must all be able to follow our doctrines and religious doc-trine, and no one should force the use of contraception on anyone who is opposed to it for whatever reason.

At the same time, access to methods to prevent unwanted pregnancies is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the Institute of Medicine recommends that every form of contraception be provided without cost as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. If contraception is acceptable to you, you should be aware of the choices and educated on their use, and they should be avail-able and affordable.

What are the benefits of ready-access to contraception? In the Obstetrics and Gynecology arti-cle, Dr. Jeffrey Peipert and Dr. Robert Terry of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis examined the effects of free access to contraceptives on pregnancies and abortions in 9,256 teens and young women enrolled in the Contraceptive Choice Project in St. Louis. The women, who received free con-traceptives, were followed from August 2007 to September 2011.

The most important finding from this report was the overall reduction in the abortion rate per 1,000 women ranging from 62 percent to 78 percent during the four years of the study. Compared to national statistics, the birthrate for teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 was 6.3 per 1,000 teens com-pared to a national average of 34.3 per 1,000 teens during the same year (2010).

Clearly, contraceptives decrease unwanted pregnancies and abortions. Simultaneously, we must respect the wishes of anyone who does not believe in contraception. We must do all we can to assure that a woman of any age are able to have a child if that is her wish, that she and her child are treated with dignity and respect, and that the family continues to have access to education, good nutri-tion and excellent health care.

Parent and child must always have the opportunity to become productive and valuable mem-bers of our great community.

Dr. David Lipschitz is the author of the book "Breaking the Rules of Aging." To find out more about Dr. David Lipschitz visit .

Last Updated on Thursday, 01 November 2012 05:04