Abortion control act: Having access to free contraception is the key

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For Americans who favor reducing the number of abortions and teen pregnancies -- and that should be everyone -- there's good news from a study of 9,000 women in St. Louis.

When given access to contraceptives at no cost, the women chose those that were most effective, and as a group they had strikingly lower rates of teen pregnancy and abortion. The results of the 2008-2010 study by a team from Washington University were reported last week in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Since many of the women were poor and uninsured, the findings highlight a valuable provision in President Barack Obama's health care law, which requires that women get access to contraception without co-pays.

The study group had 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers, compared to 34 births per 1,000 teenagers nationally in 2010. There were 4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women in the study, while the rate in the St. Louis metro region was 13.4 to 17 abortions and nationally 20 abortions per 1,000 women.

This massive project underscores something that most adults know already: that the use of contraception is effective in reducing unwanted pregnancy and enables a woman or a couple to plan for such a major life change. Such planning is also beneficial for society in general, which absorbs many of the cost ramifications of teen pregnancy, unwed motherhood or more children than a household can financially support.

As to abortion and the anti-abortion groups that also oppose contraception, the numbers are further evidence that such narrow thinking hurts the groups' own cause along with the women they claim to support.

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