Getting the Facts Straight

Fact:  Only 5% of all unplanned pregnancies happen to women who are using birth control carefully and consistently. So it’s not surprising that birth control is linked to a whole host of benefits for women, children, families, and society. By being able to choose when and if they become pregnant, women are more able to finish their education and they have higher lifetime earnings. They are more likely to receive prenatal care early in their pregnancy, leading to improved health for mother and baby. Their children are more likely to reside in stable two-parent families and relationships among family members are stronger. There are fewer abortions and public spending decreases.

What is surprising to me is that we are still having this conversation. Even though 99% women use some form of contraception once they become sexually active (though many of them not carefully and consistently), the whole enterprise remains steeped in some combination of skepticism, controversy, apathy and misinformation.    

But here we are, so I am thankful we have such an extensive array of studies on why contraception and family planning matter.  Many of them are all summarized in our new Campaign report: The Benefits of Birth Control in America: Getting the Facts Straight. The research is imperfect, of course, as all research is. We cannot possibly document what life would be like if birth control didn’t exist (thank goodness). But I’m hoping that, along with the vast amounts of data and rigorous empirical methods that are summarized throughout the report, we can employ a bit of common sense—really, how could birth control possibly not impact these outcomes? How can the ability to choose when they become pregnant not help young adults complete their education, increase their odds of being with a committed partner, enable them to participate in preconception and early prenatal care, and reduce abortion? If you’re still skeptical, ask yourself this—would you want your own daughters and sons to head into young adulthood without the ability to delay parenthood until they were ready? 

Authored by: Kelleen Kaye

Kelleen Kaye is the Vice President of Research at The National Campaign.

Before joining The National Campaign, she spent 12 years as senior analyst at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, where she developed and oversaw studies on a wide variety of issues related to family formation, poverty and public assistance.  She also has worked for the National Opinion Research Center, the New America Foundation, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution. She has served on several advisory committees including the Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics and the Interagency Working Group for the National Survey of Family Growth. She has received the Vice President’s Hammer Award for her work on the Fatherhood Initiative and the Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award for data analyses related to Hurricane Katrina.

Kelleen received a Bachelor of Science degree in economics and mathematics from the University of Wisconsin and a Masters degree in Public Policy from the University of Michigan.

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