THURSDAY, May 6, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Access to free or low-cost birth control can be an important factor in improving the future of young women, according to a new study from Colorado.
As access to affordable contraception increased, the percentage of young women leaving high school before graduating fell to double digits, while pregnancy and abortion rates also fell. The study, led by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder, followed more than 170,000 women for seven years.
“One of the fundamental claims of those who support better access to contraception is that it improves the ability of women to complete their education and, in turn, improves their lives,” said lead author and assistant professor. sociology scientist Amanda Stevenson in a college press release. “This study is the first to provide rigorous, quantitative and contemporary evidence that this is true.
The Colorado Family Planning Initiative (CFPI) began in 2009, expanding access to inexpensive forms of birth control, such as condoms and oral contraceptives, as well as long-acting reversible contraception ( LARC) more expensive, including intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants.
It was funded by a $ 27 million grant from a private donor, increasing funding for clinics supported by the federal Title X grant program, which provides low-income women with reproductive services.
Between 2009 and 2015, the birth and abortion rates of adolescents aged 15 to 19 both halved. They also decreased by 20% in women aged 20 to 24.
To determine additional impacts, the researchers used US Census data to examine the educational attainment of more than 5,000 Colorado women. They compared those whose high school career took place before the policy change with those whose high school career took place after the change. Researchers looked at the same changes in outcomes for women of similar age in 17 other states.
They found that the program reduced the percentage of women who left school before graduating in Colorado by 14%. That means 3,800 Colorado women who were born between 1994 and 1996 graduated from high school between the ages of 20 and 22 through IPFC.
Overall, high school graduation rates in Colorado fell from 88% before the implementation of the IPFC to 92% after. About half of this gain was attributable to the program. The improvements were even greater for Hispanic women: Graduation rates fell from 77% to 87%. The researchers attributed 5% of the increase to CFPI.
“Supporting access to contraception does not eliminate the disparities in high school graduation, but we find that it can significantly help reduce them,” said Stevenson, who believes that the results of the Colorado translate to other states.
Accessible contraception also promotes higher graduation rates, said co-author Sara Yeatman, associate professor of health and behavioral sciences at the University of Colorado at Denver.
“We believe there is also an indirect effect,” Yeatman said in the statement, suggesting that access to contraception is power. “The confidence that you can control your own fertility can help a young woman invest in her education and in her future.”
The research team is now looking to see if increased access to birth control can influence women’s futures in another way. They hope the findings will inform the conversation as U.S. lawmakers consider proposals to increase Title X funding, lift restrictions requiring teens to obtain parental consent for birth control, and improve the quality of birth control. ‘access.
The results were published on May 5 in the journal Scientific progress.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information on women’s reproductive health.
SOURCE: University of Colorado, press release, May 5, 2021
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