U.S. women in their early 20s are less likely to get pregnant and less likely to have an abortion, and it’s thanks to increased access to contraception.
A report from the National Center for Health Statistics showed the pregnancy rate for 20-to-24 year olds dropping 18 percent from 1990 to 2008, from 198.5 per 1,000 women to 163 per 1,000. Women in their late 20s showed a more modest 6 percent drop in pregnancy rates.
The abortion rate also dropped for women in their early 20s, from 56.7 per 1,000 to 38.4 per 1,000, a 32 percent drop. The rate also dropped for women in their late 20s by 16 percent.
The study showed that the lower pregnancy rates were due to significant improvement in the use of contraception. The study showed that 70 percent of women who became sexually active in the early 1990s used a contraceptive or condom during their first intercourse. That number jumped to 84 percent for women becoming sexually active the mid-2000s.
More than half of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, and increased use of contraceptives has been shown to lower the rate of abortion worldwide. A Guttmacher Institute study has shown that abortion drops at a proportional rate to the increase in use of contraception.
Contraceptive Use Widespread
Contraception has been used by virtually every American during their sexual history. According to the study, 99.1 percent of sexually active respondents have used some form of contraception at least once. 82.3 percent of women have used the pill — oral hormonal birth control — and 25.5 percent have used some form of injectable hormonal birth control. 10 percent of women have used a hormonal contraceptive patch.
The study did also show that men were willing to use contraception options when they were available. 93 percent of women reported that they and a partner had used condoms as a contraception at some point in their sexual history, up from 82 percent in 1995. 13.4 percent of women also reported that they had at least one partner who had undergone a vasectomy, up slightly from 2002.
The study gives a boost to the Obama Administration’s plan to require insurance companies to cover contraceptive care. Contraceptive use has clearly led to lower rates of unplanned pregnancies and, consequentially, lower rates of abortion. Oral contraceptives are also something the vast majority of women will use at some point in their lives. Obama’s policy would almost certainly reduce the abortion rate even further — which is something the strongest opponents of the policy claim to want.
Image Source: Thom L. Curnutt