Study Finds That Free Birth Control Leads To Fewer Abortions

One of the most common sense arguments that pro-life people should be pro-birth control is vindicated:

Free birth control led to dramatically lower rates of abortions and teen births, a large study concludes. The findings were eagerly anticipated and come as a bitterly contested Obama administration policy is poised to offer similar coverage.

The project tracked more than 9,000 women in St. Louis, many of them poor or uninsured. They were given their choice of a range of contraceptive methods at no cost – from birth control pills to goof-proof options like the IUD or a matchstick-sized implant.

When price wasn’t an issue, women flocked to the most effective contraceptives – the implanted options, which typically cost hundreds of dollars up-front to insert. These women experienced far fewer unintended pregnancies as a result, reported Dr. Jeffrey Peipert of Washington University in St. Louis in a study published Thursday.

The effect on teen pregnancy was striking: There were 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers in the study. Compare that to a national rate of 34 births per 1,000 teens in 2010.

There also were substantially lower rates of abortion, when compared with women in the metro area and nationally: 4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women in the study, compared with 13.4 to 17 abortions per 1,000 women overall in the St. Louis region, Peipert calculated. That’s lower than the national rate, too, which is almost 20 abortions per 1,000 women.

In fact, if the program were expanded, one abortion could be prevented for every 79 to 137 women given a free contraceptive choice, Peipert’s team reported in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Let me talk to traditionalist Catholics for a second here. If you really really believe that abortion is murder I cannot imagine how you can oppose widespread access to birth control for the general public. Even if you believe that there is some abstract harm done when humans actively thwart the procreative function of sex, as some violation of one of sex’s inherent functions, are you really so opposed to that abstract evil occurring that you would risk greater numbers of abortions, which you consider to be greater numbers of murders, to happen?

Theoretically, if thwarting our genitals’ procreative functions was such an evil, one worth risking the prospect of what you think are murders rather than ever permit–even passively, then why are you not outraged at celibates, all unmarried adults, married couples using rhythm methods, married couples with sexless marriages, etc.? In fact shouldn’t you be outraged every time a fertile day goes by when those genitals aren’t put to their purpose of trying deliberately to produce a baby?

If no act of sex can be morally permissible–or even politically tolerable–unless it is open to fulfilling that one of sex’s possible good functions then why can a single human day of possessing genitals go by without trying to use them to fulfill that good function? I mean, in your eyes, refusing to put barriers to this function is such an important matter of principle to you that you are willing to risk an increase in what you think are foreseeable murders over it.

Why are you not opposing the barriers to contraception that are abstinence and celibacy this strongly? Why don’t we hear from you traditionalist Catholics injunctions to have sex four times a day every day that one’s partner is not menstruating or pregnant? Why is that not a religious duty worth imposing on the Catholic fold and the nation more generally as the prohibition against birth control is? Why is it only a waste of the genitals’ inherent functionality when birth control is used and not also every time they are capable of having sex but not put to that purpose?

Your Thoughts?

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“Must (or Can) the Religious Engage in the Secular Sphere ‘Non-Religiously’?”

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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