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Free contraceptives cut teen abortions in study

BY DR. DAVID LIPSCHITZ Modified: November 4, 2012 at 10:19 am •  Published: November 4, 2012

Whether you believe in a woman's right to choose or not, reducing the number of abortions is as commendable a goal as avoiding unintended pregnancies. This particularly applies to women who are too young or, for any other reason, not ready to become a parent.

According to a paper published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 49 percent of all pregnancies in the United States between 2006 and 2008 were unintended. And the cost is high — $11 billion annually for every 1 million unintended births.

Because of the high prevalence of teen pregnancy, a concerted education effort has been under way to encourage responsibility, abstinence and the importance of contraception.

Between 1990 and 2008, teen pregnancies fell by 40 percent, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Pregnancy rates during that period also declined in women in their 20s and increased in women in their 30s and 40s.

These days, planned pregnancies are occurring later and later. In 2008, there were 4.24 million new births, 1.2 million abortions and 1.1 million spontaneous fetal losses.

Most encouraging is the continued decline in birthrates for girls between the ages of 15 and 19. In 2011 that number decreased to 31.3 births per 1,000 teens, compared to 34.2 births per 1,000 teens in 2010.

Currently, the teen birthrates for all ages and all ethnic groups are at historic lows. Sadly in 2011, 88.5 percent of all teen births were to unwed mothers. The reduction in teen pregnancy is thought to represent better education, abstinence and easier access to contraception.

While there has been a decline in unwanted pregnancies, in recent years there has been an assault on contraception by many groups who claim it promotes promiscuity and is no better than an abortion.

Sandra Brown, chief executive officer of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancies, said, "I can't remember a time when contraception has been so mischaracterized and maligned."

This is a serious concern. We must all be able to follow our doctrines and religious doctrine, and no one should force the use of contraception on anyone who is opposed to it for whatever reason.

At the same time, access to methods to prevent unwanted pregnancies is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the Institute of Medicine recommends that every form of contraception be provided without cost as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

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