Tag Archives: birth control

Washington lawmakers take steps to ease birth control access

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Washington lawmakers passed a bill allowing women in the state to get 12-month refills. / Photo courtesy (cc) 2014 Sarah Mirk

A common argument heard from some anti-abortion activists (namely, the non-religious ones) is that women should use contraceptives instead of resorting to abortion as a form of birth control. But here’s a little dark secret that most people often don’t talk about: birth control pills aren’t all that easy to get.

Under most forms of private insurance, birth control are free or available at a low cost. However, due to those insurance restrictions, women can often only get packs that last one month at a time. In some cases, you can get packs that last for three months.

The result is a lot of trips to the pharmacy, which can be a burden for middle-class or upper-class women, but nearly impossible for low-income women—especially those who work long hours or multiple jobs, don’t have cars or can’t afford public transportation.

Lawmakers in Washington State just took a step to make getting birth control a bit easier for women in the state. The State Legislature passed a bill allowing women to get 12-month refills for their prescriptions at a time. It now awaits a signature from Gov. Jay Inslee.

If passed, the law would do wonders to ease access to birth control for women in the state, especially those who face additional barriers due to their income status.

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Birth control methods are failing less, study finds

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IUDs, shown above, had the lowest failure rate of common birth control methods at 1 percent. / Photo courtesy (cc) 2012 Sarah Mirk

A study released Feb. 28 by the Guttmacher Institute found that the failure rates for the most common forms of birth control (the pill, condoms and IUDs) are declining in the United States.

In 2002, the last time this data was collected, the failure rate for birth control methods was 12 percent. Between 2006-10, that failure rate decreased to 10 percent. This data coincided with the decline in the rate of unintended pregnancies—with 45 percent of American women reporting in 2011 that their pregnancies were not planned, down 6 percent since just three years prior.

The IUD and the birth control implant reported a 1 percent failure rate—the lowest of all contraception methods. Withdrawal had the highest rate at 20 percent, followed by a 13 percent failure rate for condoms.

While some conservative lawmakers and activists wage a war against abortion and birth control as a combined front, the increasing reliability of birth control has also coincided with the decreasing abortion rates. In fact, the number of abortions in recent years has dropped to its lowest level since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.

In 1973, there were 16.3 abortions for every 1,000 women, according to another study by the Guttmacher Institute. In 2014, the most recent year for this data, there were 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women.

“We’re seeing declines in abortion rates,” Kathryn Kost, a co-author of the report, told NPR.  “We’re seeing declines in birth rates. So we know that American women are not getting pregnant unintentionally at the same levels that we had been observing.”

The declining failure rates for birth control should be a celebratory win for both sides of the political aisle. More successful birth control means less unintended pregnancies, which means less abortions—something we should all agree is a positive. It is vital that access to birth control remains open, and that access is improved for many women—especially low-income women of color—who still struggle to obtain quality birth control choices.

Covering reproductive justice in 2017

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An American flag flies in Miami. / Photo courtesy (cc) 2008 Julian Carvajal

In just three days, Donald J. Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. He will be greeted in D.C. by a U.S. Senate and House of Representatives that are both controlled by Republicans, many of whom have worked tirelessly in Congress to defund women’s health clinics and limit access to abortion and birth control. For women and men who rely on services provided by clinics such as Planned Parenthood—which also offers sex education, Pap tests, breast exams and test and treatments for sexually-transmitted infections including HIV— they may very well be facing the fight of their lives. The Body Politic is here to chronicle that fight.

First, we aim to look at Trump’s record on reproductive services, which has been wishy-washy at best. He was openly pro-choice for many years, but stunned the audience at a February 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference by announcing that he was pro-life.

The president-elect said throughout his 2016 campaign that he was in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. He also said he believes abortion should be decided by the states, and that women who would receive illegal abortions should be subject to “some sort of punishment.” He later backtracked on that statement and said doctors who perform illegal abortions should be punished.

On the issue of birth control, the president-elect has not been as outspoken, but he has been adamant in his plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, under which millions of women receive birth control at no additional cost to their health insurance.

The Body Politic aims to deliver well-informed opinions on the state of reproductive justice in America, and take a look at how policies proposed by Trump and a Republican Congress will have a greater effect on millions of Americans. I will continually check in with Planned Parenthood‘s blog, the Pro-Life Action League BlogOur Bodies, Our Blog, Every Saturday Morning, Feministing.com and Jessica Valenti’s column for The Guardian.