By Ellen Chesler and Andrea Flynn

Emergency Contraception Use Spreads, But Many Women Are Still Left Out

February 26, 2013 12:43 pm Category: Memo Pad 8 Comments A+ / A-
Emergency Contraception Use Spreads, But Many Women Are Still Left Out

New evidence shows more young women are using emergency contraception, but we still have work to do to reduce all barriers.

A federal study released recently shows that use of emergency contraception (EC) in the United States, known colloquially as the “morning after” pill, has more than doubled in the past decade. This is good news. It demonstrates the critical and expanding role the method may now be playing in enabling women, particularly young women, to prevent unplanned pregnancies. But there are still serious hurdles women face in accessing this method of birth control. While access has expanded, there is still work to be done.

The study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and the National Center for Health Statistics, strengthens the case for promoting EC widely and making it more readily available. Based on interviews with more than 12,000 women from 2006-2010, the research finds that EC use among all sexually experienced women between the ages of 15-44 has increased to 11 percent (up from a baseline of 4.2 percent). That number is even higher among women 20-24, one of the highest risk groups for unplanned pregnancy. Nearly a quarter of this cohort now reports having used EC.

This is no coincidence. In 2006, nearly a decade after EC first entered the market under the trade name Plan B, and after years of stalling and political maneuvering by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency finally ruled that the product can be provided without prescription to women over the age of 18. A year later, a federal judge ordered the FDA to make it available to women over the age of 17. An important provision of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) also now promises to cover the cost of all methods of contraception, including this one.

The government study confirms what we already know: accidents happen. Half the participants report having used EC out of fear that their initial birth control method had failed; the other half used it because they had unprotected sex. This reminds us that even women who have a “plan A” need a “Plan B,” or, as the product is now also marketed, a “Next Choice.” Nearly one third of all U.S. women using contraception rely on the pill, and approximately 16 percent use condoms – both effective methods when employed perfectly, but also ones prone to human error. Condoms break, and sometimes women forget to take a daily low-dose pill. And then there are still the many women who, because of lack of access, cost, forgetfulness, or spontaneity, still don’t consistently use birth control and need protection after the fact.

One of the most common arguments against EC is that it is really just an early abortion method masked as contraception. This simply has no basis in science, as most recently explained by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Unlike medication abortion, which terminates a pregnancy in its earliest stages, EC actually prevents a pregnancy from occurring.

The next most popular and equally erroneous claim is that increased access to EC – and, for that matter, any program or product that provides access to abortion, contraception, or sexuality education – will promote risky sexual behavior. Studies from diverse countries over many years tell us this is not the case. But new research coming out of New York City now confirms that access to EC right here at home does not encourage young people to become more sexually active. In fact, it does just the opposite. The NYC Department of Health recently reported a 12-point drop over 10 years, from 51 to 39 percent, in the proportion of public high school students who are sexually active. Over the past few years, the proportion of sexually active students using contraception, including Plan B, increased from 17 to nearly 27 percent. Both trends coincided with an expansion of school-based health centers that provide free contraception (including EC), counseling, and sexuality education.

So now we have homegrown data to show that when young people have access to sexual health information, no or low-cost products and services, they make better and safer decisions about their reproductive and sexual lives.

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Emergency Contraception Use Spreads, But Many Women Are Still Left Out Reviewed by on . New evidence shows more young women are using emergency contraception, but we still have work to do to reduce all barriers. A federal study released recently sh New evidence shows more young women are using emergency contraception, but we still have work to do to reduce all barriers. A federal study released recently sh Rating:

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Comments

  • quasm

    Mrs. Mallow;

    How is a program that promotes promiscuity a good thing? Why should those who are opposed to this practice be forced by their government, which is supposed to be bound by a constitution guarantying freedom of choice, to pay for or provide it?

    Dik Thurston;
    Colorado Springs

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Myers/100001512942781 Jim Myers

      Replying to quasm -

      I find it interesting that you used the words “freedom of choice.”

      Particularly when it is used after the words, “promotes promiscuity.”

      Since men do not get pregnant, the term “promotes promiscuity” is usually associated with women, when in fact it takes two to create a fetus.

      Of course, a man could have a vasectomy. That would solve the problem. However, most men would rather “roll the dice.”

      After all, it’s all her fault, isn’t it?

      • quasm

        Mr. Myers;

        What is your point. You are implying that I’m a misogynist, which is not true. It takes two to tango and both parties are equally responsible for the outcome unless force is used. Perhaps you are letting your bigotry cloud your judgment.

        Best Regards;
        Dik

    • Landsende

      I object to having owners of sports teams or race tracks wanting taxpayers to pay for new facilities instead of paying for it themselves. I object to being forced to use ethanol so corn producers can reap record profits. I object to giving oil companies subsidies while paying $3 to $5 for a gallon of gas while they are making record profits. I object to defense contractors bidding on projects and having cost overruns and never being held accountable. Unfortunately, we can’t pick and choose where we want our taxpayer dollars to go. I find it odd that the only thing you object to is birth control for women when there are so many other things to object to.

      • quasm

        Dear Landsende;

        It may surprise you to know that I object to those extortions also. That does not make the extortion at hand ethical.

        Best Regards;
        Dik

  • http://www.facebook.com/allan.richardson.969 Allan Richardson

    If you are morally opposed to war, you cannot withhold your taxes in the amount that goes to the military. Henry Thoreau tried it in the 1840′s (read “Civil Disobedience”), and he served time in jail for it, even though he made his point. Many anti-Vietnam-war protesters tried it and also served time in jail. In accordance with his philosophy, they accepted the punishment from the state as part of their personal testimony.

    If you are morally opposed to gambling, but your state holds a lottery, do you tell your child’s school not to accept the lottery revenue?

    If you are Amish and do not believe in driving cars, do you object to your taxes going to build highways rather than dirt roads?

    If you are a Jehovah’s Witness and object to blood transfusions, can you legally deny taxpayer support for OTHERS to have them to save their lives?

    If you are a Jain, and thus object to killing animals, even insects, do you object to having your taxes support meat inspection or mosquito spraying?

    The point is, your conscience is clear as long as YOU do not take advantage of anything provided by government that goes against your beliefs, or ADVISE others to do so. Tax money goes to services that the MAJORITY believe will serve a useful SECULAR purpose in promoting law and order or making the lives of more people less difficult (in this world; government is prohibited by the First Amendment from making laws based upon any one group’s beliefs, EVEN the majority’s beliefs, about what happens in the next world).

    And besides, if you read the article, and if you believe in EVIDENCE BASED REALITY, you would know that EC does NOT PROMOTE promiscuity. A certain amount of promiscuous sex is going to happen ANYWAY, and reducing the penalty from shame AND pregnancy to shame ALONE (and I am sure that you and people like you will be there to impose the shame) is better for the young lady, and for society as a whole, by not having to deal with, and pay for, children conceived under less than ideal circumstances.

  • sleepvark

    Dik, isn’t your real last name Head? Promotes promiscuity? Try being drug free for a few hours, get off your bar stool and listen up. Alcohol promotes promiscuity. Something that prevents unwanted pregnancies and keeps some young ladies from being murdered by their pious parents and boy friends can only be a blessing.

  • chrisconnolly

    How can anyone say that EC availability promotes promiscuity without then discussing the promiscuity promoted by viagra. Viagra that doesn’t ever seem to be mentioned, isn’t denied access by holier than thou pharmacists, and isn’t denied coverage through health care? Women take pregnancy infinitely more seriously than men do. After all men don’t have to take time off from jobs for it, they don’t have to jeopardize their health for it, and they don’t have to succumb to responsibility other that some low dollar monthly payment for eighteen years. Take viagra and all others like off the unlimited availability table and there might be some reason to talk about righteous indignation over EC.

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