Family planning. It sounds sensible, but it’s extremely controversial. At least, in some countries.
What if it wasn’t? What if the world recognized a woman’s right to birth control? What if birth control was freely accessible?
How does this pill improve women’s health, and society as a whole? Since 1994, worldwide contraceptive use has gone up by 8.3%.
But in North America, it’s gone down. This might have something to do with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that, for religious reasons, employer’s health plans don’t have to cover birth control for their employees.
Elsewhere in the world, there are nearly 50 countries where birth control is totally free. So, who’s right?
Is there a right answer when it comes to birth control? You can decide for yourself, but consider these facts first.
Every year, U.S. taxpayers pay on average $12 billion a year for unplanned pregnancies that are heavily subsidized by Medicaid. A rough estimate of how much each unplanned birth costs comes to about $13,000. But to supply one woman with a year’s worth of birth control only costs about $250.
Actually, making birth control free would save a lot more money, since a majority of those affected by unwanted pregnancies are low-income women, who would require long-lasting government support in order to raise a child they can’t otherwise afford.
The unaffordability, or simply the unavailability of birth control, not only increases the number of unplanned pregnancies, it also raises the abortion rate. Of all the unplanned pregnancies in the U.S. since 2006, roughly half of them ended in abortion. Politically contentious and personally traumatic, we could significantly reduce the number of abortions every year, simply by making birth control free.
But the pill doesn’t just prevent unwanted pregnancies, it improves women’s health, and it reduces medical costs.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, birth control pills lower a woman’s risk for ovarian cancer, and can prevent endometriosis, a condition that affects fertility.
Not to mention, women who experience unintended pregnancy are less likely to receive the early prenatal care they deserve, and are more likely to smoke, drink, and suffer depression and domestic abuse during their pregnancy.
Conversely, a recent study showed that easier access to birth control improved quality of life among women. A majority of the study’s participants were able to complete their education, find work, and support themselves financially.
So what we can expect from world where birth control is free? Lower taxes, fewer premature deaths, and a society that does more to respect women, and to promote their safety and success.
This ideal future might be closer than you think! Contraceptive use is spreading around the world. While birth control is still most prevalent in North America, in the past decade, its usage in Africa has increased by almost 60%; which is the most dramatic jump compared to South America’s 15% rise, and a 10% boost in Asia.
There’s still a lot more work to do, and it starts with raising awareness and focusing more attention on women’s health. Taking your time to properly plan for a child shouldn’t be political, and definitely not controversial.
It should be as simple and as sensible as it sounds! So show this video to family and friends, so that they too might understand how a small pill can make a huge difference.
- “All Of The Countries Where Birth Control Is Free”. 2019. Business Insider. Accessed March 26 2019.
- “Why Birth Control Should Be Free”. Rinkunas, Susan. 2016. The Cut. Accessed March 26 2019.
- “How Long Is Too Long To Take The Pill?”. Rinkunas, Susan. 2015. The Cut. Accessed March 26 2019.
- “A Map Of Everywhere The Pill Is Subsidized”. Zack Beauchamp, 2014. Vox. Accessed March 26 2019.
- “Birth Control Around The World: Mapping Methods Of Contraception | Superdrug™”. 2019. onlinedoctor.superdrug.com. Accessed March 26 2019.
- “This Map Shows You All The Places Where The Pill Is Free”. 2019. Public Radio International. Accessed March 26 2019.
- “No Controversy: 5 Fantastic Arguments For Better Birth Control Access: Bedsider “. 2016. Bedsider. Accessed March 26 2019.
- “New Study Confirms What Many Have Long Believed To Be True: Women Use Contraception To Better Achieve Their Life Goals”. 2012. Guttmacher Institute. Accessed March 26 2019.