Providing women with free, long-acting contraception appears to be a good way to cut the U.S. rates of abortion and unintended teen pregnancy, a new study suggests. The nearly 10,000 women at risk for unintended pregnancy in the St. Louis area who were provided with free long-term reversible contraception such as IUDs and hormone implants had rates of abortion four times lower than the regional rate (4.4 compared to 17.0 per 1,000 women).
Rates of abortion in the city declined by 20.6 percent from 2008 to 2010, while there was no change in the rest of Missouri, according to the study, published in the December issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
But ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross warns there may be unintended consequences of giving away these forms of birth control a rise in sexually transmitted infections. Girls who use non-barrier methods are protected from pregnancy, but I fear that their use might promote a false sense of security justified regarding pregnancy but not regarding risk of STIs that could have unintended consequences. Nevertheless, I believe that the net benefit outweighs this concern, as unwanted pregnancy is fraught with its own perils.