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Decline in Abortion Rate Highlights Value of Affordable, Accessible Birth Control, Planned Parenthood Says

WASHINGTON - A report issued Monday by the Guttmacher Institute shows that abortion rates dropped considerably in 2011, a moment in time in which births were also down overall. Planned Parenthood Federation of America said the new report underscores the importance of affordable, accessible birth control. 

Statement from Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

“This report shows that rates of pregnancy dropped overall, and so did the rate of abortion. The report concludes that access to a range of birth control methods is playing an important role in reducing unintended pregnancy and decreasing the need for abortion. This report comes just as some politicians and corporations are trying to make it harder for women to get birth control by chipping away at the historic benefit in the Affordable Care Act that requires insurance plans to cover birth control without a copay.

“Every year, more than 700 Planned Parenthood health centers provide birth control to more than two million patients from all walks of life. We know firsthand that when a woman has access to birth control, she has the power to plan her family and pursue her goals. Access to birth control is a health care issue, an economic concern, and a matter of basic justice.

“One important finding in this report is that women who do decide to end a pregnancy are increasingly using medication abortion, which is a safe and effective method used early in pregnancy. This report underscores the need for women to have information and access to their full range of options, in consultation with a medical provider and without political interference.

“Planned Parenthood is proud to provide abortion services for women who make the deeply personal decision to end a pregnancy, we are proud to fight for a woman’s right to make that decision without interference from politicians, and we are proud to provide birth control that prevents that need for abortion in the first place.”

The Contraceptive CHOICE study led by the Washington University Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology demonstrated that access to birth control counseling, drugs, and devices without cost-sharing — as promised in the Affordable Care Act — leads to significantly lower rates of unintended pregnancy. An estimated 47 million women stand to benefit from this provision — with 27 million already estimated to be receiving coverage. 

Women like Gail from Arizona who wrote to us and said, "Without birth control, I could not have worked to help my husband through school and I could not have pursued higher education and a law degree for myself.  Our family's economic health and bright future depended on birth control.  We planned to have two children and have been able to help them achieve the life they want.  More children would have prevented our family from living up to its potential.  Covering birth control is essential to the economic well being of this country."

Or Patricia from Colorado who said, "As a single woman who teaches part time, I have to pay for my own insurance. I have advanced degrees, I am a law-abiding citizen and a proven educator. Birth control coverage is necessary for me because I am trying to plan for the future with my boyfriend and cannot afford any surprises right now. I also support birth control coverage without co-pays because I see my students struggling as single parents. No one should risk their financial future (or the future of their children) because of lack of affordable prevention."

You can read more stories here.

This spring, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two challenges to the birth control benefit brought forward by bosses at Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties who want to be able to deny their employees access to birth control based on their own personal beliefs. The bosses who brought these cases have views that are far outside the mainstream, and the outcome of these cases could have extreme consequences for millions of Americans. Learn more about those cases here.


  • When women can control their lives with birth control, they help the economy. According the Shriver Report, released earlier this month by Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress, one-third of all American women are living at “the brink of poverty,” meaning that they earn less than $47,000 per year for a family of four. “Forty-two million women, and the 28 million children who depend on them, are living one single incident—a doctor’s bill, a late paycheck, or a broken-down car—away from economic ruin,” the report reveals.
  • When birth control is taken from them, women’s economic vulnerability is worsened and the economic situation of the nation is imperiled. According to the Shriver Report, women make up nearly two-thirds of minimum-wage workers, the vast majority of whom receive no paid sick days. We need to embrace the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit because it’s smart economic policy that saves taxpayers money in the long run. For every dollar spent on family planning, nearly $6 in public money is saved, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
  • Access to birth control is not just a health issue, it’s an economic issue. A 2010 survey found that more than a third of female voters have struggled to afford prescription birth control at some point in their lives, and as a result, used birth control inconsistently.  This isn’t surprising considering copays for birth control pills typically range between $15 and $50 per month — up to $600 per year.  Other methods, such as IUDs, can cost several hundred dollars, even with health insurance.
  • Birth control expands opportunities for women. A 2012 report from the Guttmacher Institute confirmed that women use contraception to better achieve their life goals, with the majority of participants reporting that contraception has had a significant impact on their lives, allowing them to take better care of themselves or their families (63 percent), support themselves financially (56 percent), complete their education (51 percent), or keep or get a job (50 percent).  Other reasons for using contraception, reported by a majority of respondents, include not being ready to have children (63 percent), feeling that using birth control gives them better control over their lives (60 percent), and wanting to wait until their lives are more stable to have a baby (60 percent).
  • Birth control has helped women move closer to economic equity. Research finds that availability of the pill is responsible for a third of women’s wage increases relative to men. By the 1980s and ’90s, the women who had early access to the pill were making eight percent more each year than those who did not.

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Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is many things to many people. We are a trusted health care provider, an informed educator, a passionate advocate, and a global partner helping similar organizations around the world. Planned Parenthood delivers vital health care services, sex education, and sexual health information to millions of women, men, and young people.

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