by Robin Marty, Senior Political Reporter, RH Reality Check
October 11, 2012
Note: Think that anti-choice politicians and activists aren’t trying to outlaw contraception? Think again. Follow along in an ongoing series that proves beyond a doubt that they really are coming for your birth control.
Access to contraception reduces unintended pregnancies. Preventing pregnancy reduces unintended pregnancy… It’s pretty simple. If women and their partners want to prevent pregnancy, there is much less chance there will be… a pregnancy.
This shouldn’t be something that needs to be debated. Yet somehow, we are still doing it. The most threatening development to the anti-choice movement now is the newest study showing unsurprisingly that when women are offered more access to contraception, especially longer-term contraception, the abortion rate goes down. The study was conducted by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and published October 4th in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. You know… peer-reviewed and stuff. Now it’s time for the birth control opponents to do what they do the best—dispute the study.
Michael New writes at LifeNews that the study is flawed; according to him, it wasn’t long enough, and it had the audacity to compare the rates of unintended pregnancy among the demographics of the population participating to the rate of unintended pregnancy among the demographic that didn’t participate.
However, the most convoluted explanation of why the study doesn’t prove anything is his rational that the participants were “self-selecting.”
Each of the 9,256 participants in the study was a volunteer. As such, women in the study very likely had a stronger desire to avoid a future pregnancy than women who declined to participate. Most research indicates that a desire to avoid pregnancy has a significant impact on the likelihood of becoming pregnant. As such, comparing the abortion rate and the birth rate of study participants to national and state averages is a flawed comparison. A better idea would have been to randomly select some percentage of the volunteers, inform them that they were not going to receive free contraception, but continue to track their births and abortions in exchange for some compensation. That would have allowed for a meaningful comparison between a treatment group and a control group.
Of course, the participants willingly took part. No one is forcing birth control on people who don’t want to be on it, either in the program or in the general population overall. That’s the whole point of the no co-pay birth control mandate that is part of the Affordable Care Act—access to birth control FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO PREVENT PREGNANCY.