Friday, March 30, 2007

Who's Doing the Most to Reduce the Number of Abortions?

While anti-choice advocates hurl shrill accusations from the sidelines, pro-choice groups have been hard at work trying to reduce rates of unintended pregnancy.  Fewer unintended pregnancies translates to fewer abortions.  One aspect of the pro-choice campaign has been to increase knowledge of and access to emergency contraception (EC).  This spring, Planned Parenthoods nationwide have been holding "Free EC Days," on which they hand out EC at no charge for women to keep in the medicine cabinet.  For example, the Indiana Journal & Courier reported yesterday:

Planned Parenthood of Indiana has announced plans to offer free emergency contraception on Tuesday at nine of its health centers, including the Lafayette facility.

This will be the first time the group is making emergency contraception widely available for free, said Steve Carr, Planned Parenthood communication manager. And the goal is to ensure more women have it on hand if a need arises. The facilities chosen for distribution are all in college towns.

See also: Planned Parenthood Gives Away Free Emergency Contraception -- Shame on Them!

When I started working at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project in 1997, public awareness of EC was low.  Some women knew of it only as the "morning after pill," a poor term since EC actually is effective for up to 5 days after unprotected intercourse.  The educational efforts of pro-choice groups have paid off.  Surveys administered to girls aged 13-21 years at one medical center show how dramatically awareness of EC increased from 1996-2002:

Compared with survey results for 1996, the 2002 findings represented significant increases in the number of respondents who had heard of EC (74% vs. 51%) and used it (13% vs. 3%). Among girls who knew of EC, in 2002 96% knew how to obtain it vs. 81% in 1996. And 53% of the teens in 2002 knew the correct time limit for using EC vs. 21% in 1996.

Read more.  But we shouldn't be relying on pro-choice advocates to do all the work.  Hopefully Congress will do its part by passing the proposed Prevention First Act.

Congress, Contraception | Permalink

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