For Catholics, a fundamental part of the doctrine is this: Neither abortion nor birth control are acceptable.
So much political debate centers on that fundamental part of Catholic or otherwise conservative philosophy: How much control should mankind assume over the bringing of life into the world?
Now we have word, reported on University City Patch on Friday and other outlets this week as well, that a Washington University study—known as the Contraceptive Choice Project—links access to affordable or free birth control to a decline in abortion rates in the St. Louis area.
The study notes that abortion rate in the St. Louis area declined by more than 20 percent in the St. Louis area between 2008 and 2010, while other parts of the state not covered by access to free birth control did not see a decline.
The Huffington Post's report notes "the abortion rates among among all participants ranged from 4.4 to 7.5 per 1,000 women over the two-year period, substantially lower than the national rate of 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women in 2008."
“The impact of providing no-cost birth control was far greater than we expected in terms of unintended pregnancies,” said lead author Jeff Peipert, MD, the Robert J. Terry Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “We think improving access to birth control, particularly IUDs and implants, coupled with education on the most effective methods has the potential to significantly decrease the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions in this country.”
According to a video associated with the project, "Unintended pregnancy affects women and men of all ages and income levels. Teen mothers are less likely to complete their education and tend to end up or stay in poverty."
It goes on to note that unplanned babies tend to have lower birthrates and other health problems "that can affect them their whole lives."
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch report on the study:
The contraception project illustrates the potential impact of full insurance coverage of birth control under the Affordable Care Act, Peipert said. The controversial provision in the health care reform law requires contraception to be covered as a preventive service like vaccines and certain cancer screenings.
Legal battles continue in Missouri, where the Legislature voted last month to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of a bill that would allow employers to opt out of covering contraception in their insurance plans. Soon after, a women's labor group filed a discrimination lawsuit against the bill. A federal judge in St. Louis threw out this week a claim from a local business owner that the contraception requirement violates religious freedom.
Is birth control an acceptable alternative to unplanned pregnancies and abortions? Why or why not? Are you surprised by the findings of this study (read fuller reports by clicking the links)? Why do you think the subject of free access to birth control is so intertwined with our political debate? Should it be? Why or why not?