Public health impact
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The outcome of the study in the article "Free Birth Control Lowers Abortion Rate" (Oct. 5) should be looked at by the Pittsburgh community as a potential relief from the long-standing childbirth problems in the area.
The study shows that providing free contraceptives can prevent many abortions. Unintended pregnancies do not just end in abortions. These pregnancies also have higher rates of infant death. An October 2011 New York Times article, "Tackling Infant Mortality Rates Among Blacks," reported the infant mortality rate among black women in Allegheny County in 2009 as 20.7 per 1,000 compared to a 6.7 national average. By implementing a program to provide free, efficient contraceptive methods to women, other downstream public health issues such as infant mortality rates may be reduced.
However, there is a flaw to the link between this study and the Obama administration's plan: Requiring employers to provide contraceptive options to their working women may not reach those at highest risk of unintended pregnancies such as those in the 15-19 age range. Hopefully this shortage could be overcome by public health programs.
The writer is a student at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health.
First Published October 16, 2012 12:00 am