A recent study released by researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis revealed that low-income women have lower rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion when given easy no-cost access to birth control.

Researchers who launched the Contraceptive CHOICE project tracked 9,256 low-income girls and women over four years and found that when cost wasn’t a barrier, women chose birth control and had birth rates that were “less than a fifth of the national teen birth rate.” Furthermore, “abortion rates were less than half of both the regional and national rates”. According to the study’s findings, “if the program were expanded, one abortion could be prevented for every 79 to 137 women given a free contraceptive choice.”

In response to the findings, director of women’s health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, Alina Salganicoff said, “As a society, we want to reduce unintended pregnancies and abortion rates. This study has demonstrated that having access to no-cost contraception helps us get to that goal”.

The Affordable Care Act, signed into law by President Obama in March 2010, helps make preventative care, including birth control, more affordable for women. As of August 1, 2012, every new insurance policy is required to include a basic well-woman’s preventive health care package that includes birth control, STI/STD testing, and other preventive care without any co-pays or deductibles.

Vice president of public policy and government relations for Planned Parenthood, Dana Singiser, responded to the study by saying “this study shows that the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit can dramatically reduce the need for abortion in the U.S. once it is fully implemented. To prevent unintended pregnancy, women need full information, full coverage and full choice for what type of birth control works best for them.”

Media Resources: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists study; Think Progress 10/05/12; Associated Press 10/04/12; Feminist Newswire 06/28/12