Is there a good way to reduce teenage births, long a problem in Berkshire County, as well as abortions? Making contraceptives readily available is a common-sense approach, and that logic has now been strongly supported by a study conducted in St. Louis.
The Washington University study from 2008 to 2010 released this month tracked more than 9,000 women in St. Louis, many of them poor and/or without health insurance, who were offered a choice of free contraceptives, among them birth control pills, IUDs and implants. With cost not an issue a majority of women chose the im plant option, which is both the most effective and the most expensive.
The results were indisputably significant. There were 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers in the study compared to the national rate of 34 births per 1,000 in 2010. (The teen birth rate in Berkshire County was 27 per 1,000 that year.) The abortion rate was 7.5 per 1,000 women in the study compared to 20 abortions per 1,000 nationally. The right to abortion is the law of the land, and if that changed it would only mean abortions would return to the back alleys. While abstinence is good in theory it doesn’t work in the real world. Anyone who wants to reduce abortions, which is everybody, should support sex education and easy access to contraceptives.
Under Obamacare, millions of women are starting to get access to contraception without co-pays. The St. Louis study tells us that will mean fewer abortions and teen pregnancies. Republican candidate Mitt Romney wants to end Obamacare and Title X, a 40-year-old program that offers family-planning advice and assistance to low-income women. That would translate to more children born to poor women, and a commensurate increase in welfare and related costs, and more abortions. It is not difficult to determine the responsible path.