Pregnancy

Research Project Simulates Obamacare For Women And Finds Less Knocked Up Teenagers

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The affectionately titled “Obamacare” may be a difficult pill to swallow for some but if you have children who might be sexually active –ever — it shouldn’t be. When Contraceptive CHOICE simulated President Obama‘s Affordable Care Act with almost 10,000 women, their findings revealed a new reason mothers and fathers should get giddy about free birth control.

US News reports that the research project offered St. Louis and Kansas City women between the ages of 14 and 45 free contraceptives for four years: between 2007 and 2011. And the results were most pleasing to any parent’s ear, with abortion rates down between two-thirds and three quarters less than the national average (for those same years).  Five hundred teenage girls were involved in the study and the birth rate was 1-in-159 (compared with 1-in-29 nationally). That’s an 80 percent drop in four years. Even though teens are not necessarily the employees who would be receiving free birth control coverage under their own employers, coverage under their parents’ policies could still vastly impact those teen birth rates.

Gina Secura of Washington University in St. Louis, and one of the authors of the report, says that simulating Obamacare for teenage girls has yielded a positive projection with this study:

“It seems like a no-brainer, but it’s a good example of what Obamacare could possibly look like if women had access to birth control options in terms of cost and education of different methods.”

Considering that condoms tend to have high failure rates with teenagers given inconsistent and incorrect use, it’s worth noting that 75 percent of the women in this study chose “long-term options” such as an IUD or subdermal implant. Only 9 percent of women chose birth controls pills.

Secura and her colleagues determined that when women were educated on the benefits of long-term birth control, most opted for it. US News also reports that “just 40 percent of adults and 20 percent of teens remember to take birth control pills daily,” so IUDs, and options like it, could prevent many unplanned pregnancies as well as abortions. (We’re talking a 99 percent effectiveness).

However, Jeanne Monahan of the Family Research Council told the Associated Press that championing less effective forms of birth control could cause problems of its own:

“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,” she said.

That’s why those birth control pill packs should come hand in hand in with solid and comprehensive sex education that advocates using condoms consistently and being vigilant about oral contraceptives. One of the most telling aspects of this study is that Contraceptive CHOICE didn’t just throw free NuvaRings into the hands of teens but rather coupled that birth control access with information. So while Obamacare may be making historic changes for women and the way the government views their healthcare needs — and their bank accounts — I wouldn’t mind the president legislating more sex ed to accompany that birth control mandate either.

(photo: Calek/ Shutterstock)