Free Contraception Can Cut Abortion Rate in Half
When Norwegian researchers offered free contraception for one year to young women living in Tromso and Hamar in Norway, the abortion rate in those cities was cut in half. Could free contraception be an effective way to reduce abortion rates in other cities around the world?
Norwegian Contraception Study
The Norwegian project, which was conducted on behalf of the Directorate of Health and by SINTEF Technology and Society (The Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research), included 3,500 women ages 20 to 24. This is the age group with the highest abortion rate in Norway. Four cities were included in the project: two where women received free contraception and two used for comparison.
The investigators found that 93 percent of the Norwegian women studied reported using hormonal contraception, and that the number of women who used this form of birth control did not increase during the study. What improved, however, was their continuity of use. While the women tended to skip taking their hormonal contraception when they had to purchase it themselves and cost was a factor, they were more likely to not miss their doses when the contraception was free. Better compliance with contraception use leads to a reduced chance of pregnancy.
In Tromso and Hamar, the use of long-term contraceptive methods such as IUDs and hormonal spirals more than doubled. These methods are more expensive than the Pill as a one-time investment. According to Anita Oren, research manager of the study, “Women themselves say that they are very pleased to have the freedom to choose the type of product they prefer, irrespective of price.”
The contraceptive methods offered in the study included the Pill, contraceptive injections, patches, vaginal rings, IUDs, implants, hormone spirals, and copper spirals.