Why Do Women Use Birth Control? Believe It or Not, Nobody Asks
According to a new report by the Guttmacher Institute most women in the US use contraception because it allows them to better care for themselves, their families, complete their education and achieve economic security.
Jennifer Frost and Laura Lindberg of the Institute said most studies on contraceptive use fail to ask women why they use contraception. To fill this gap, the authors surveyed 2,094 women receiving services at 22 family planning clinics nationwide. The majority of participants reported that contraception has had a significant impact on their lives, allowing them to take better care of themselves or their families (63%), support themselves financially (56%), complete their education (51%) or keep or get a job (50%).
“Women value the ability to plan their childbearing, and view doing so as critical to being able to achieve their life goals,” said study author Laura Lindberg in a statement. “They need continued access to a wide range of contraceptives so they can plan their families and determine when they are ready to have children.”
When the women were asked why they were using contraception at this point in their lives they all expressed concerns about the consequences an unintended pregnancy would have on their families’ and their own lives. Not surprisingly the single most frequently cited reason for using contraception was that the women could not afford to take care of a baby at that time.
Along those economic concerns, nearly one in four women reported that they or their partners were unemployed which was also an important reason for their contraception use.
And to drive home the point that contraception and abortion are issues mothers deal with, among the women with children who participated in the study nearly every one of them reported their desire to best care for their current children as a reason for contraception use. “Notably, the reasons women give for using contraception are similar to the reasons they give for seeking an abortion,” according to Lawrence B. Finer, author of a previous Guttmacher study on that topic. “This means we should see access to abortion in the broader context of women’s lives and their efforts to avoid unplanned childbearing, in light of its potential consequences for them and their families.”
Inextricably tied to economic concerns, women cited economic opportunity as another reason they used contraception. 56 percent of respondents said it allowed them to support themselves financially, 51 percent said it allowed them to complete their education while 50 percent said it allowed them to keep or get a job.
So when Republicans like Paul Ryan promise to take away the contraception benefit in Obamacare, and when lawmakers across the state want an employer to have the ability to veto insurance coverage for contraception, let’s be clear what those lawmakers really want, and that’s to take away women’s ability to be economically self-sufficient.
Photo from widasko via flickr.