Horowitz: Backsliding on Birth Control Makes No Sense

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Rob Horowitz, GoLocalProv MINDSETTERâ„¢

Rob Horowitz
President Trump and Republicans in Congress are intent on making contraception more expensive and difficult to get, launching what the Population Institute calls a “senseless war on birth control.”

In more restrained language, Isabel Sawhill, Eleanor Krause, and Katherine Guyot make the same point, calling the Trump Administration’s reversing measures that make “family planning services affordable and accessible” a "mistake" in a recent article posted by The Brookings Institution.  According to the authors, “It will damage prospects for women, children, and the economy.”

Research confirms that marked improvements in educational achievement and workforce advancement for women are at least partially a result of increased access to more effective forms of birth control.  Further, as Sawhill and the other authors point out, it is in large measure responsible for the “dramatic decline” in the teen birth rate.  It is now less than 25% of what it was in 1960.  And contrary to the predictions that greater availability of birth control would increase risky sexual behavior among teens, the percentage of teens who are sexually active has lessened over the past 25 years.

This progress stems in large measure from the stepped up use of newer and more effective birth control methods, such as Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARCs).  Several recent studies find that when used, these products substantially reduce the rates of unplanned births and abortions

The use of contraception has also contributed to a significant decline in the abortion rate, which dropped 25% between 2008 and 2014. Researchers from the Guttmacher Institute argue that the increased use of birth control is the single largest factor in this impressive decline.

Still, as the Brookings authors point out, nearly half of  births in the United States remain unintended as other age groups have not made the same amount of progress as teens.  Birth control costs are a significant factor in whether women use contraception effectively or not, especially for low and moderate income women. The provision of the Affordable Care Act. reducing or eliminating charges for contraception has made an significant positive difference, which make Republican efforts to do away with or create loopholes in this provision all the more senseless.

It is time for the Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress to stop being driven by ideology and myth and look at the actual evidence.  Family planning efforts are a proven success. They should be expanded—not cut back.

 

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island. 

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