The Contraceptive CHOICE Project just added a little more evidence to something that’s so blindingly obvious that it should come as a surprise to nobody. It turns out that when you provide actual women who want birth control with access to birth control, they have way fewer abortions! Weird.
The project enrolled 9,256 women aged 14 to 45 from the St. Louis area. For three years, the women were given their choice of birth control at no cost.
The national rate of abortion is 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women. The rate for women in the project? 4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000.
The effect on teen births was even more remarkable, dropping from 34.3 births per 1000 teens to 6.3. SIX POINT THREE! That’s a better than 80% drop. Let’s see how ‘abstinence only education’ stacks up to that.
Anyway, it’s hardly surprising that ubiquitous birth control has this effect, but it’s nice to have some actual numbers.
From the TIME Magazine article:
The findings come amidst contention over President Obama’s health-care law, which offers women FDA-approved birth control without a copay. As of August 1, contraception is covered for women signing up for new health insurance plans or renewing their existing plans.
“[C]hanges in contraceptive policy simulating the Contraceptive Choice Project would prevent as many as 41% to 71% of abortions performed annually in the United States,” the study’s authors wrote.
Nearly half of the more than 6 million pregnancies that occur each year are unintended, and about 43% of them end in abortion. Further, about 1 million births are unintended, costing U.S. taxpayers about $11 billion a year in associated expenses. Low-income women with less education are far more likely to have an unintended pregnancy than their wealthier, educated peers.
So! Now that that’s nice and settled, I expect religious conservatives and the pro-life movement to embrace this common-sense solution to one of the major issues of our age and back universally available birth control.
After all, if you believe that abortion is murder, and that ending it is one of the most important moral considerations we face, this should be a no-brainer.
Waiting … waiting … sigh.
And if your more prominent goal isn’t to have collectively fewer abortions, but instead focuses on individual morality…? Or that sex is about as bad as abortion?
(You don’t actually have to answer those. I like the utility of your point and I’m don’t intend to use these questions to argue against it. I’m just trying to think of an audience of people I know who are pro-life, it feels like they would ignore or argue the point away, and I’m trying to figure out if there’s a way to phrase it to bring the point down to, say, individual morality rather than a collective statistic. Especially if some folks try to argue that 19 abortions are too many… but 4 are also too many, so they are the same thing.)
I booked marked this for future reference. I argue a lot on a catholic centric website so this will come in handy, thx.
Total agreement, Plaid. This is actually kind of my point.
If the argument is that having collectively fewer abortions isn’t important, then no, it’s not morally equivalent to abortion.
If the argument is that abortion is morally equivalent to abortion, but sex is worse, then that argument is self-evidently nonsense, and can be rejected out-of-hand.
The position of the religious right seems to be that abortion is the worst thing ever and we should do anything to prevent it … as long as the burden falls on someone else. When preventing abortion involves them making hard compromises, they simply refuse.
My perspective is essentially that we ought to take their moral arguments no more seriously than they do. If preventing abortion isn’t important enough to them to fund birth control, why on earth should it be important enough to me to force women to bear children?
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Of course we all know the issue is not really about contraception, or even birth control per se. It’s about the mind set of authoritarians who want to control the destiny of women, not control the actual number of abortions.
Myca: that last question pretty much answers itself, doesn’t it. I think that your question is a good way to separate the people who are actually in favor of life from the ones who are about punishing women for having sex. (Yes, there are the people who think every sexual act is wrong unless it has the possibility for procreation, but hey, if you think “wrong” means “deserves punishment” then you’re just back to punishing women for having sex.) It’s a lot like the people who would rather see the further spread of HIV than encourage people to use condoms.
Also along this axis are questions about whether procuring an abortion deserves criminal penalties or whether there should be a rape exception for laws restricting abortion.
If, on the other hand, the point is that people should act on the basis that they are responsible for their own decisions and their consequences, then there’s no inconsistency between expecting people to take the steps necessary to keep from getting pregnant on their own – using what resources they have at hand – and expecting people not to destroy a fetus if that is the consequence of their having had sex.
Ah, another strawman. No one (in this context) is proposing to block anyone’s access to birth control. No one is proposing to make it illegal to sell or manufacture it, or to ban people from buying it, or to blockade pharmacies. If you cannot afford to buy ‘x’, then my refusal to pay for it for you is not blocking your access to ‘x’.
It kind of makes you wonder why 3 out of 10 women who are given all the free birth control they want still end up getting pregnant and having abortions. Sure, BC methods can fail, but not by that margin.
Having an abortion is taking responsibility for one’s own decisions and their consequences. It’s a perfectly legal and legitimate procedure that I find 100% morally unproblematic.
If you disagree (as I assume you do), and find abortion morally repugnant, then the question is whether it’s more morally repugnant than providing free birth control to women.
The issue is NOT whether you want people to pay for their own health care costs. Of course you do. The issue is why, if abortion is SO SO SO BAD, providing them with contraception is somehow worse.
And if it’s not worse, why on earth would you oppose it? It has been shown time and time again to dramatically reduce the incidence of abortion.
The difference is the difference between ideology and reality.
Ron, You are literally the only person in this thread to have used the word ‘block,’ or any of the permutations thereof (‘blocking,’ ‘blockade,’ etc). The bit you quoted did not use the word block. My post did not use the word block.
The bit you quoted referred to, “providing actual women who want birth control with access to birth control.” Any references to people attempting to block access to birth control, you invented, just now, in your comment.
Someone here is making a straw-man argument, but it’s not me.
It doesn’t make me wonder that at all, because that’s not even close to what the study said.
Seriously, are you just trolling me now?
RonF, you’re not up to your usual standards today:
When the statistic quoted is:
Where did your 3 in 10 number come from?
“No one (in this context) is proposing to block anyone’s access to birth control”? Seriously, you believe that?
Perhaps you’ve heard of the various “personhood” amendments that say a fertilized egg is a full-fledged human being? And yes, those backing these laws have absolutely argued that hormone-based birth control, by preventing implantation of fertilized eggs are “murder” and should be outlawed. Same for IUDs.
There is no argument too odious for these ideologues when it comes to keeping those uppity shameless hussies where they belong: in the kitchen.
Hey, let’s do some math!
The abortion rate for women in the project was 4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000.
Let’s just average that out, for convenience’ sake, to 5.95/1,000 women
So 5.95 ÷ 1000 = .00595, which we’ll round to .006.
So 0.6% of the women in this study had abortions. Not 6%. ZERO POINT 6%.
Roughly 1/2 of 1 percent.
Next, we’ll go to the Comparison of birth control methods wiki page. They list a bunch of birth control methods. What I’ll do is total up the failure rate of all of these methods and see what the average failure rate is. I’ll exclude methods which either fall outside the ground rules of the study (like sterilization), aren’t actually birth control (like the rhythm method), or have no failure rate data attached.
So I’m coming up with 19 methods … not knowing exactly what the Contraceptive CHOICE project covered (do condoms count?), or, more importantly, what women chose, I think those 19 seem like the best we can do.
So, by my calculations, assuming perfect use, the failure rate rate for those 19 methods comes out to 5.24%.
Assuming typical use, the failure rate rate for those 19 methods comes out to 11.7%.
I think that you’ll agree that both typical use and perfect use failure rate are well above 0.6%.
Having an abortion is taking responsibility for one’s own decisions and their consequences.
Not if your mindset is that pregnancy is a rightful punishment for being a slutty slut slut. Having an abortion is getting out of being pregnant and having a baby, which is the appropriate “consequence” for making the decision to have a vagina.
Kind of the way that, if you suffer a terrible auto accident, the paramedics won’t treat you if it was because you were drinking or texting or simply weren’t driving a car with the best available safety features, because you need to accept the consequences of your actions. Oh, wait.
To various: Yeah, math – I blew that. Yeesh. An off day. Sorry about that.
@11, offlogic – those proposals do exist, but they are outliers. Outlawing birth-control pills and IUD’s isn’t going to happen.
Destroying a nascent human life is not a responsible decision. Again, you and I disagree on the philosophy of the value of an implanted zygote (to get all biological about this) and whether it’s a human life to the point that it deserves the protection of the State. But that’s where I’m coming from. I don’t expect either one of use to change our minds on the issue based on this particular debate, but understand that for a great many people, “abortion” != “responsible”.
True, but when you used the word “access” you introduced the concept, one that the original formulation of “free contraception” did not have. It’s a word that in the current political environment has been used as an equivalent to taxpayer funding of birth control. For example, we see it here, in the debate over the RCC and other entities objecting to a bill that would require them to provide funding for birth control in the health insurance they provide their employees:
“However, the radical anti-contraception advocates are now turning to Congress in an attempt to restrict women’s access to this vitally important health care.
these radical activists are now trying to exert control over women’s bodies by limiting their access to birth control, something that, under the new health care law, women should have access to at no additional cost.”
To deny or grant access to something is a function of controlling physical barriers to it – or legal barriers that carry the threat of State force behind them (“sell someone birth control pills and we’ll arrest you, try you and lock you up.”). To say “providing actual women who want birth control with access to birth control.” is equivalent to saying “removing the blocks that women who want birth control were encountering”. It is not the equivalent of saying “we’re giving women free birth control”, the effects of which on abortion rates is what this thread is about.
Then go for it. Give your money to Planned Parenthood. Get on the phones at their HQ and raise money for them. Walk into the neighborhood pharmacy, hand over some money and say “use this to pay for someone’s BC that can’t afford it.” I won’t raise either a finger or my voice to stop you. And I’ll put my money where I think it’ll do the most good.
My opposition to abortion is not a function of the morality – whether by your standards, mine, or anyone else’s – of someone’s sex life. I don’t care if the woman involved is married or not, whether the father is her husband or not, whether she’s monogamous or has slept with 100 men this year, whether she got pregnant via a drunken encounter in a bar, the back seat of her car, the marital bed or in a doctor’s office via artificial insemination.
I also don’t think that children are a punishment.
I agree. That is one thing that irritates me about these arguments. An “undesirable consequence” is not (always) the same thing as a “punishment.”
RonF, believing that abortion is morally wrong because it destroys a human life is a very different issue than treating it as a failure to accept responsibility. The former is a moral position. The latter is slut-shaming. There’s no other way to square your use of terms like “consequences”. Abortion is a consequence. It may be one you disapprove of, but that is not the same thing.
Mythago, I’m kind of confused by your comment at 16. You say,
What is the difference between “a moral position” and “slut-shaming”? Surely shaming a slut is a moral position?
What is the difference between condemning someone because they (arguably) have destroyed a human life, on the one hand, and condemning them because they have failed to accept responsibility? Aren’t these one and the same?
Susan, no, they’re not – because the responsibility in question, per RonF, is “the consequence of their having sex”. Not “the consequence of being a parent.” I doubt RonF condemns a pregnant woman in that situation who chooses to put her child up for adoption as escaping the consequences of having sex, or of dumping the responsibilities of parenthood. I also doubt that he would tell a rape victim that, by aborting a pregnancy of that rape, she is irresponsibly evading the consequences of not using the pill/ IUD to protect her from pregnancy in case of rape. But he would still believe the abortion ended a human life, yes?
Um. OK. I think. I’m really not qualified to speak for Ron. Perhaps he can weigh in here?
For myself, the thing seems cloudy and clear at the same time. If the conceptus is to be afforded the same protections as any other human being (no one argues so far as I know that the conceptus is not human, or is not alive, or is not a unique person), then perhaps we owe that person the same duties we owe anyone else. Or maybe we don’t, but we would need some kind of rationale why not if not.
One argument is that this person is utterly dependent upon another person (the mother) and she has rights too. This makes sense. We often weigh the rights of one person against another. One is that this person has some kind of absolute right to life over and above the rights of the mother.
But the moral position of these two persons (“slut shaming”) seems irrelevant to me. Because one of these persons is a “slut” seems not to have much to do with the rights, if any, of the other person.
Perhaps of course we should not afford the conceptus the rights of a human person. This makes sense when the conceptus is a ball of cells, but progressively makes less and less sense as it develops into a recognizable, and then possibly independent, human infant. There doesn’t seem to be a bright line here, before which the conceptus is “just a bunch of cells” and when it is a “person.” Very few abortion rights advocates hold that the pregnant woman is authorized to abort an 8 months “fetus” for no good reason at all.
I’m confused by the whole discussion
Susan @19 – you’re seriously not aware of anyone arguing that a conceptus is not a living human being?
Regardless, though – if you believe that from the moment of fertilization, the result is a living human being, then surely preventing fertilization by use of contraception is far preferable to killing such a human being. So there should be no objection to contraception unless you *also* believe sex is wrong qua sex.
Well, is the conceptus a living human being or not? No one that I know of is arguing that he/she is not, but lots of folks are anxious to fuzz the question.
Someone thinks it isn’t human? Please cite your sources. Someone thinks it isn’t living? Please cite your sources, agan. Of course it is obvious that he/she is living, that he/she is human. (Anyone not with me so far? This is dead tissue, it’s a baboon or something?)
Moving right along, I assume that those who assert the mother’s right to terminate the life of this human being have weighty arguments to assert in favor of this right.
Contraception, the prevention of the creation of this being in the first place, seems to me to be on a different plane. After all, the teenage girl (or boy) who says, in a word, NO, is asserting contraception at the most primary level. Is anyone contending that there is something wrong with saying NO?
Irrelevant once we get to the conceptus. Nice if we could go back, but we can’t.
Can’t figure out how to view, much less edit, parts of the poss t the right of the weird window I’m getting. Apologies for the errors! It’s almost impossible to get it right. I mean “post” not poss.” Please for all stupid errors refer to the host.
If “living” just means “not dead,” and “human” means “consisting of human cells,” as you seem to be claiming, then doesn’t that make pretty much any bit of a person into a human being? Within your definition, what differentiates an embryo from a spleen?
I don’t need to cite sources. I am a source. I don’t believe that anything is a living human being that doesn’t have a nervous system (that’s not a sufficient condition, but it is a necessary condition, as far as I am concerned). There’s quite a lot of time that elapses between conception and before the embryo becomes a human being. As Ruchama states, there are plenty of parts of me that are made of living human tissue and are not, in and of themselves, living human beings. My right index finger is not a living human being. If it gets infected and a doctor amputates it, he is not committing murder. An embryo is, in its early stages at least, part of a human being – specifically, part of the woman that bears it – not a human being.
Thanks for your input on this question. You will forgive us perhaps, O Source, if we don’t take your personal beliefs as Holy Writ.
This discussion is going downhill.
I missed the source that shows that a clump of cells is a human being?
Hi, nm, hi Eytan, your personal beliefs are not evidence.
The conceptus is living (not dead) otherwise it would be dead (!) and couldn’t develop into anything. I think that is clear. Anyone who disagrees is welcome to post to that effect. The conceptus is human; anyone who thinks it is of some other species is welcome to present evidence to that effect. (Please not ‘I, the Source, think it is a baboon.’)
If left alone in an appropriate environment the conceptus will develop into a complete human person. This differentiates it from a piece of spleen, say.
I cannot comment meaningfully much further because the edit box will not allow me to see more than one half of each line of my current comment. Sorry for the inevitable confusion.
Maybe it’s just a minor point, or it is a point that contributes towards the truth, but social science surveys and studies etc. have simply become dominated with an agenda.
It is really different with regard to actual science studies – lots of fudging and downright falsification also turns up – but there are enough people interested in the truth that important results are verified and re-verified.
None of that happens, or is expected, with regard to social science crap. No one cares, and specific agendas have settled into areas like sociology.
In short: I don’t trust the studies and don’t really care what they say. I also consider myself to be an objective person who is interested in the truth. You ain’t gonna find the truth in modern-day social science crap.
My personal beliefs are not evidence about the status of a conceptus, obviously. Never claimed they were.
You claimed that no-one believed what I do. The fact that I believe what I do is evidence that you’re wrong about that. It’s not like I’m particularly unique in my beliefs.
But this is a derail, and I’m not going to pursue it further.
Let’s not make this a thread about whether abortion is bad or not. I don’t think it is. Clearly some here disagree. That’s not the point. That argument has been had many times, and nothing we say in this thread is going to meaningfully contribute to settling it.
This thread is about the simple fact that free access to birth control has been shown to reduce the abortion rate by 41 to 71 percent. IF you believe that abortion is murder, that’s 500,000 to 850,000 murders a year that can be prevented by taking this simple step.
Maybe making some sort of point about responsibility is more important than preventing 850,000 murders, but I don’t see it.
I was using it in the sense of “access to transportation,” “access to adequate housing,” or, “access to healthy food.” That is … if it’s available on the free market, and you can’t afford it, you don’t have access to it.
I don’t have access to a Ferrari for my morning commute.
Providing access to birth control means ‘making birth control available’. There’s no implication that someone else is trying to block that access, and claiming that that’s my argument is straw-manning, heavily.
As for whether taxpayer funding of birth control is wise, I guess it depends on how much you value reducing abortion and teen pregnancy as opposed to maintaining ideological rigidity.
Penelope Ariel Ponyweather, if there’s a specific issue you take with the study, by all means, point it out. Maybe the methodology is bad in some way. Sure, whatever. I’m open to that argument.
There are arguments I’m not open to, though. “This study is wrong because SOCIAL SCIENCE” is one. “This study is wrong because AGENDA” is another. Claiming that the researchers must be falsifying data because you don’t like their conclusions? Even less convincing. Sure, maybe it’s a bad study. These arguments are not arguments for that.
What would your truth conditions regarding this be, then? As an objective person interested in the truth, I mean.
—Side Tangent 1—-
Sure, but “if left alone in an appropriate environment,” an unfertilized egg will also develop into a person. The “appropriate environment” just has to include the presence of healthy sperm.
And actually, that statement isn’t true of a conceptus either. About half fail to implant, and half of those that do are miscarried.
“Left alone” is also a pretty odd statement when the “environment” is a person’s body. A pregnant woman can’t just go on about her normal life and give birth to a healthy baby. There are drugs she can’t take, foods she can’t eat. Heck, she’s not even supposed to clean a litterbox or get in a hot tub.
—End of Tangent 1—
—Side Tangent 2—
Worth mentioning here that unless that same insurance excludes pregnancy coverage, it’s cheaper to provide free birth control than not. The cries of “being forced to spend money” ring a little hollow when it’s actually spending *less* money.
—End of Tangent 2—
On the main issue, I agree with Myca, but I’m not surprised either.
Though someone needs to tell the people deliberately lying about birth control (e.g., the common falsehood that it’s an abortifacent, this screwed-up video) that if they really believe abortion is murder, they’re complicit in an awful lot of murders.
And Mississippi not bothering to educate kids about birth control is much the same. If you knowingly withhold true information from a group of people, and that information has been proven to prevent an act that you define as murder, how are you not complicit? (Only if you view birth control use as morally equivalent to murder, I guess.)
Comprehensive sex ed can still include all the dire warnings you want about how sex is bad and only abstinence is 100% effective; it just needs to include actual medical information about birth control.
Because their money is infinitely more important than a woman’s bodily integrity, obviously. Taxes are slavery, but forced birth totally isn’t.
“All studies are wrong nowadays” is not a real argument, Penelope.
” ‘All studies are wrong nowadays’ is not a real argument, Penelope. ”
Not all studies. Agenda-driven studies are commonly found in the area of social sciences though. If you find a couple of cockroaches in your spaghetti, you don’t try to separate the spaghetti that the cockroaches didn’t visit from the rest of it – you throw all of it out.
And 4 out of 5 dentists recommend Trident sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum. (Study paid for by Trident gum company). Tobacco companies have also funded studies on cigarette smoking. Guess what they found? LOL
I won’t derail this thread anymore by giving examples of agenda-driven studies in the area of non-scholarly, activist “angry/victim studies”, but Google is still there.
Agenda-driven studies aren’t wrong because they’re agenda-driven. They’re wrong if they get the science wrong.
Do you have any evidence that this study gets the science wrong?
As an ancillary point, I’d add that agenda-driven studies are common in many different areas, not just social science. If you’re going to discard all spaghetti that might get some agenda on it, you won’t be eating spaghetti for the foreseeable future.
You’ll find truth in the DATA. You’ll find less of it in the reports, still less in the summary, and almost no truth in the “short appealing news briefs” that are based on the summary.
It’s entirely possible that this study sucks. It may be biased, inaccurate, or just plain poorly designed. And it’s entirely possible that this study is A-OK.
If you care to read the data and discuss it, there happen to be a lot of folks here who are capable of doing so. Including me.
However, if someone actually ran a study with 9000+ participants, then it is generally more likely to be well run than a study with 90 participants, and also it appears to have come from a major hospital. There aren’t any particular reason to assume it’s entirely invalid.
Thanks for the digression. That was bothering me about RonF’s comment too.
Big Tobacco’s bought-and- paid-for results were not in the area of “social science”, Penelope. They were in the area of science – “proving” that smoking was safe, not addictive and so on. Trident commercials touted opinion surveys, not studies. The study quoted in this post was not about “social science”, either; it measured quantifiable results (abortion rates).
Your attitude is not about objectivity; it’s about lazy cynicism. If I dismiss all “social science” studies I don’t have to expend effort on considering whether they are valid, and I never have to worry about bring misled.
It’s about lazy cynicism at best.
At worst it’s about thinking up reasons to ignore parts of reality you dislike.
Charles S, any time. Always happy to side-track the conversation. ;)
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Hey. I am a conservative christian & I believe in birth control & access to birth control. Most of us do. Don’t sling mud at a mass of people assuming you know what we believe. If we want the world to improve then we need dialogue and respect between groups. We won’t always agree on everything but hatred does not bring world peace and improved lives. I am glad that this study establishes an obvious point in a day and time when everyting requires a study to make the idea ligitimate.
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