The Growing Options for Birth Control & Threats to Access

birth control optionsAccording to Claire Brindis, co-founder of the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco, “Pills, condoms, IUDs have long been the traditional method of contraception.” There are also female condoms, diaphragms, and cervical caps. But in the past decade other alternatives have added to the list of options.

For example, there is the hormone patch and an insertable ring, both of which release low-dose levels of estrogen and progestin.  There are now also hormone shots and implanted hormone “sticks” that go into the arm and last for months or even years before having to replace.  Permanent, non-surgical contraceptive options like Essure and Adiana are out there as well.

The increase in options is a good thing, as according to Erin Allday, San Francisco Chronicle writer, “unplanned pregnancies still make up roughly half of all pregnancies in the United States.  To help change this, Kaiser and other health care providers are making it more important than ever to help men and women find the best form of birth control to help prevent unplanned pregnancies.

Factors that women care about when selecting the right form of birth control of course include costs. IUDs are spendy up front, but last a long time. Birth control pills are affordable for many, but they need to be regularly re-ordered and you have to remember to take them, which proves to be challenging for some. However, one study showed that if women were given a year’s supply of birth control pills, their odds of becoming pregnant dropped 30 percent. Seems having them on hand increases the likelihood they will be taken. Other factors women consider is whether they want something in their vaginas, or how they might feel about stopping their periods entirely.

The good news is there’s an array of options from which women can choose.  The bad news: the House wants to cut off federal spending for Planned Parenthood, the country’s largest provider of family planning services. Of its $1 billion dollar budget, more than a third comes from federal, state, and local governments. Abortion opponents want to stop funding Planned Parenthood because it is an abortion provider, plain and simple, even though by law government funds can’t be used for abortion.  Not only does Planned Parenthood use government funds for abortions, it represents a mere 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services. The proposed bill will also cut Title x, a 1970 law that provides family planning for more than 5 million women every year at over 4000 health centers. It will also but a billion dollars that would go to community health clinics.

Let’s hope the House’s idea dies in the Senate or on the President’s desk. If it does not, having many birth control options may be possible, but access to these options may be greatly affected.

Laura Carroll

Childfree author of Families of Two

blogging at La Vie Childfree http://lauracarroll.com

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