A dramatic new study with implications for next month’s presidential election finds that offering women free birth control can reduce unplanned pregnancies — and send the abortion rate spiraling downward.
When more than 9,000 women ages 14 to 45 in the St. Louis area were given no-cost contraception for three years, abortion rates dropped from two-thirds to three-quarters lower than the national rate, according to a new report by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis researchers.
From 2008 to 2010, annual abortion rates among participants in the Contraceptive Choice Project — dubbed CHOICE — ranged from 4.4 abortions per 1,000 women to 7.5 abortions per 1,000. That’s far less than the 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women nationwide reported in 2008, the latest year for which figures are available.
Among teen girls ages 15 to 19 who participated in the study, the annual birth rate was 6.3 per 1,000 girls, far below the U.S. rate of 34.3 per 1,000 for girls the same age.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Jeffrey Peipert, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University, expected both measures to fall, but even he said he was “very surprised” by the magnitude.
In all, Peipert said, one abortion was prevented for approximately every 100 women who took part (the actual estimate is 1 per every 79 to 135 women).
The results were so dramatic, in fact, that Peipert asked the journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology to publish the study before the Nov. 6 presidential election, knowing that the Affordable Care Act, and its reproductive health provisions, are major issues in the campaign.
“It just has so many implications for our society,” he told NBC News.
From NBC News