Thursday, October 4, 2012

D is for Data and It's Good Enough For Me

I for one don't need a study to tell me that women make good health choices when given the right facts and tools. But since the world is full of people trying to make women's health decisions for them, I do love me some data.

Today's AP reports a study by Doctor Jeffery Peipert at the Washington University Medical School examining the ways that women's behavior changed when cost was removed as an obstacle to accessing birth control.

When cost was an issue, 28% of women chose birth control pills, for about $15-50 per month, with an 8% failure rate per year. Less than 6% chose Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC), that is hormonal implants or IUDs.

When cost was not an issue, 70 % of women chose (LARC), upfront cost between $500 and $1000, failure rate less than 1% per year. Just 11% chose the Pill.

You will be shocked, shocked, to find that these women had fewer pregnancies and abortions than women who had to fork over cash each month and then remember to take a pill at the same time every day.
The effect on teen pregnancy was striking: There were 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers in the study. Compare that 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.
Seems like irrefutable evidence that the mandatory insurance coverage of birth control under the Affordable Care Act will actually reduce abortions and unintended pregnancies, right? Obviously, anyone who opposes abortion will be jumping right on this wagon.

The AP was kind enough to contact Jeanne Monahan of West Wingnutistan the Family Research Council, for her considered opinion.
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.
The only way this makes an iota of sense is if you believe that we'll all just keep our knees together if we can't get birth control. No, stop laughing! I think that's what she's really saying.

Data rides to the rescue again! When Massachusetts implemented Commonwealth Care, the model for the Affordable Care Act, the abortion rate fell almost 14% between 2006 and 2008. BTW, the Massachusetts insurance plans paid for contraception AND abortion for poor women.

Who knew numbers could be so sexy? So, today I'll donate $5 to the Guttmacher Institute, the best source for women's health statistics. Because women don't need a bunch of BS about abortion causing depression, or the pill causing infertility. Just the facts, please. We'll make the right decisions.

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