THURSDAY, May 6, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Access to free or low-cost birth control may be an important factor in improving young women’s futures, according to new research from Colorado.
When access to affordable birth control increased, the percentage of young women leaving high school before graduation dropped by double digits, while the rates of pregnancies and abortions also dropped. The study, led by University of Colorado at Boulder researchers, followed more than 170,000 women for seven years.
“One of the foundational claims among people who support greater access to contraception is that it improves women’s ability to complete their education and, in turn, improves their lives,” lead author and assistant professor of sociology Amanda Stevenson said in a university news release. “This study is the first to provide rigorous, quantitative, contemporary evidence that it’s true.”
The Colorado Family Planning Initiative (CFPI) began in 2009, expanding access to inexpensive forms of birth control, like condoms and oral contraceptives, but also more costly long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), including intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants.
It was funded with a $27 million grant from a private donor, augmenting funding for clinics supported by federal grant program Title X, which provides low-income women with reproductive services.
Between 2009 and 2015, birth and abortion rates for teens age 15 to 19 both declined by half. They also declined 20% among women age 20 to 24.
To determine additional impacts, resear