The False Promise of Contraception
"Contraception reduces unintended pregnancies" has joined its fantastic make-believe friends "death with dignity," the "efficacy" of embryonic stem cells, the "certainty" of man-made global warming, and the "positive" multiplier effect in the leftist vernacular. Hopeful that repetition supplants truth, choirs of liberal faithful are singing:
Most importantly, broadening access to birth control will help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions - Jeanne Shaheen, Barbara Boxer and Patty Murray
Covering contraception saves money for insurance companies by keeping women healthy and preventing spending on other health services - White House Fact Sheet on Contraception Coverage
Now consider, instead, reality.
The Science. The results are in: contraception availability does not reduce unintended pregnancies.
Many adolescent males will wholeheartedly affirm a connection between the availability of contraception and sexual activity, and scientific data supports the link. Studies have shown that contraception increases sexual activity -- i.e., that more contraception means more sex.
One study, based on Centers for Disease Control data, established clear links between birth control and increases in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). STD increases are a very reliable indicator of increased sexual activity and show that contraception is wrongly perceived as low-cost insurance -- a perception that motivates increased sexual activity.
And more sex means more pregnancies. Why? Because contraception is far from 100% effective, and with mass distribution of contraception comes a commensurate increase in sexual activity. More pregnancies will result because contraception fails in predictable percentages.
It is noteworthy that failure rates are highest in Planned Parenthood's customer base:
Failures are highest among cohabitating and other unmarried women, among low income, African-American and Hispanic women, among adolescents and women in their 20s. For example, adolescent women who are not married but cohabitating experience a failure rate of about 47% in the first year of contraceptive use.
In Sweden, between 1995 and 2001, teen abortion rates grew 32% during a period of low-cost condoms, oral contraceptives and over-the-counter emergency contraception. Similarly, National Review recently reported that "out of 23 studies on the effects of increased access to ECs, not one study could show a reduction in unintended pregnancies or abortions."
A recent ten-year study in Spain was reported to have found the same thing:
[C]ontraception use increased by about 60%, the abortion rate doubled. In other words, even with an increase in contraception use, there weren't fewer unwanted pregnancies, there were more.
Planned Parenthood's own affiliate, the Guttmacher Institute, showed simultaneous increases in both abortion rates and contraceptive use in the U.S., Cuba, Denmark, the Netherlands, Singapore, and South Korea. Guttmacher cites other countries as evidence of the opposite relationship, but it is noteworthy that many of those countries already had high abortion rates, often as part of existing coercive government policies.
Alan Guttmacher Institute researcher Stanley K. Henshaw: "Contraceptive users appear to have been more motivated to prevent births than were nonusers."
Planned Parenthood's Frederick S. Jaffe, in Abortion Politics, admitted that "...even if everyone were to practice contraception, and use the most effective medically prescribed methods, there would still be a very large number of unwanted pregnancies."
Abortionist and international contraception promoter Malcolm Potts [former director of Planned Parenthood of England] 1976 (even as early as 1973) quoted in Sex and Social Engineering by Valerie Riches.- "As people turn to contraception, there will be a rise, not a fall, in the abortion rate...".
In Abortion, he noted, "...those who use contraception are more likely than those who do not to resort to induced abortion..."
Alfred Kinsey, 1955: "At the risk of being repetitious, I would remind the group that we have found the highest frequency of induced abortions in the groups which, in general, most frequently uses contraception."
Sociologist Lionel Tiger, 1999: "With effective contraception controlled by women, there are still more abortions than ever...[C]ontraception causes abortion."
British Abortionist Judith Bury, Brook Advisory Centres, 1981: "...women...have come to request [abortions] when contraception fails. There is overwhelming evidence that, contrary to what you might expect, the provision [availability] of contraception leads to an increase in the abortion rate."
The majority of the decline in teen pregnancy rates in the United States (86%) is due to teens' improved contraceptive use; the rest is due to increased proportions of teens choosing to delay sexual activity.
As the real-world data suggests, there are problems with this analysis. The original Santelli study on which the above statement is based relied heavily on 1995-2002 changes in contraceptive usage to postulate a cause for the reduction in unintended births. According to Santelli, this reduction came about as a result of more reliable contraception usage by sexually active teens. However, after 2002, those changes in usage slowed to a halt. As a result, although teen pregnancy rates have continued to decrease, their correlation with Santelli's hypothesis has vaporized.
The Santelli analysis was a hypothetical modeling exercise that assumed its hypothesis (contraception is increasingly effective, therefore contraception is increasingly effective). When half of the tautology was made untrue by post-2002 contraception usage trends, the conclusion was also rendered invalid.
The irrelevance of the Santelli study suggests that Michael New's explanation is increasingly credible:
... that parental involvement laws and public funding restrictions are effective in reducing the incidence of abortion among minors. Specifically, the passage of a parental involvement law correlates with a 16 percent decline in the minor abortion rate, and the passage of Medicaid funding restrictions correlates with a 23 percent decline in the minor abortion rate.
Conclusion. Real-world studies show that contraception has not reduced, but has instead increased unintended births. Therefore, President Obama's recent HHS edict has a very questionable basis in fact. It has also alienated a large swath of the electorate and is in all likelihood unconstitutional.
It seems that in this case, science has taken a backseat to ideology, and as a result, Catholics and other faiths are being systematically mistreated as a result of their religious beliefs. That makes this a case of bad science and religious bigotry.
11995 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) and 1994-1995 Abortion Patient Survey (APS). Planned Parenthood has indicated that 75% of its customers are at or below 150% of the poverty line.
2 Santelli JS et al., Explaining recent declines in adolescent pregnancy in the United States: the contribution of abstinence and improved contraceptive use, American Journal of Public Health, 2007, 97(1):150-156.
3 For instance, sexually active teens using the pill increased from 25.0% to 34.2% from 1995 to 2002 but decreased to 30.5% in 2006/2010. Likewise, those using condoms increased from 38.2% to 54.3% from 1995 to 2002 but decreased to 52.0% in 2006/2010. The rate of changes in those using "no method" also changed dramatically, from 29.3% to 16.8% from 1995 to 2002, but only from 16.8% to 14.4% in 2006/2010. Data is from the CDC 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth.