Free birth control

In the fight for the White House, there are many attempts to find weaknesses in an opponent’s defenses.

The federal health care effort popularly known as “Obamacare” is seen by Republicans as an issue to exploit.

It’s one reason that Mitt Romney, despite his own background as governor, has been more willing for most of the campaign to try to disown Massachusetts’ role in the creation of the federal act. Even now, as Romney softens his stance, stating he will keep parts of the federal law, he remains vague when it comes to the particulars.

One aspect of the law that should be a keeper, regardless of who might be sitting in the White House, should be how birth control is covered.

A recent study by the Washington University in St. Louis has been getting plenty of attention when it comes to birth control, teenage pregnancies and abortions. In studying a two-year period during which 9,000 women had access to free contraceptives, from pills to implants, the researchers came up with some significant numbers. Abortion rates for the group dropped to just 4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women, compared to rates of 13.4 to 17 abortions per 1,000 in the metro St. Louis area. The study group’s rate was far lower than the national rate, too, which is almost 20 abortions per 1,000 women.

The impact on teen pregnancy was also dramatic. While the national rate of teenage births in 2010 was 34 births per 1,000 teens, in this study, there were 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers.

Given how much attention is paid politically to the issues of abortion and unwed mothers, having access to free contraception seems like a common-sense approach to this issue, unless you’re of the mindset that thinks that free birth control only leads to promiscuity.

As for the Affordable Care Act, one of the provisions that is set to begin requires private health care insurance coverage to provide birth control pills or implants at no cost to those enrolled.

Perhaps Romney may keep this provision, but given some of his remarks, we suspect this won’t be the case.

He’s said that if elected, he will end federal money for Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides contraception, family planning education and cancer screening for low-income women.

We think that reducing teenage pregnancies and abortion is something that everyone should desire regardless of political leanings.

This study shows a real-life way to accomplish this.

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