A recent study by the reproductive health and rights group the Guttmacher Institute confirms what many people have long known and suspected, that access to contraception helps women better care for themselves and their families, complete their education and achieve economic security and stability.
The study, titled “Reasons for Using Contraception: Perspectives of U.S. Women Seeking Care at Specialized Family Planning Clinics,” was authored by the Guttmacher Institute’s Jennifer Frost and Laura Lindberg, who, realizing that no comprehensive survey had been done of the reasons women use contraception, “surveyed 2,094 women receiving services at 22 family planning clinics nationwide.”
“Women value the ability to plan their childbearing, and view doing so as critical to being able to achieve their life goals,” wrote Lindberg. “They need continued access to a wide range of contraceptives so they can plan their families and determine when they are ready to have children.”
According to the study, 63 percent of women surveyed said that contraceptives have a significant impact on their lives, and allow them to take better care of themselves and their families. Fifty-six percent said that being able to control their reproductive lives makes them better able to support themselves, while 51 percent said that contraception was important to helping them complete their education and 50 percent of the women said that access had made it easier for them to look for and find a job.
Resonating throughout the study is the idea that birth control is important to women economically. Sixty-five percent of the women surveyed answered that they use contraception because they can’t afford the expenses incurred by pregnancy and child-rearing. Among women with children, nearly all reported that their desire to properly care for the children they have is paramount in their decision to use birth control. Nearly one in four of the women surveyed have partners who are unemployed, leading to additional doubts about the financial wisdom of becoming a mother.
Many women responded that birth control is essential to them in making responsible choices about when to have a family. Some 63 percent said that they are using contraception because they don’t feel ready to have a child, 60 percent said that they’re using it because it gives them more control over the direction of their lives and another 60 percent answered that they are waiting to have children until their lives are more stable.
According to the study, “These findings point to the critical role of contraception in the lives of women and their families, and further documents the value of ensuring women’s continued and increased access to a full range of contraceptive services and methods.”
You can read the full report here. (.pdf)
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