Better access to birth control increases graduation rates

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By Cara Murez
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 6, 2021 (HealthDay News): Free or low-cost access Birth control it can be an important factor in improving the future of young women, according to new Colorado research.

When access to affordable birth control increased, the percentage of young women dropping out of high school before graduating was reduced by double digits, while the pregnancy rate and abortions also fell. The study, led by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder, followed more than 170,000 women for seven years.

“One of the fundamental demands 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, “said lead author and assistant professor of sociology Amanda Stevenson in a university press release.” This study is the first to provide rigorous, quantitative, and contemporary evidence. that is true “.

The Colorado Family Planning Initiative (CFPI) began in 2009, expanding access to inexpensive forms of birth control, such as oral condoms and contraceptives, but also more expensive reversible long-acting contraception (LARC), including intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants.

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It was funded with a $ 27 million grant from a private donor, increasing funding for clinics with support from the federal Title X grant program, which provides low-income women with reproductive services.

Between 2009 and 2015, birth and abortion rates for teens ages 15 to 19 were halved. They also decreased by 20% among women aged 20 to 24 years.

To determine additional impacts, the researchers used U.S. census data to examine the educational level of more than 5,000 Colorado women. They compared those whose high school career occurred before the policy change with those in high school after the change. The researchers examined the same changes in the outcomes of women of similar age in 17 other states.

They found that the program reduced the percentage of women who dropped out of school before graduating by 14% in Colorado. This means that 3,800 Colorado women who were born between 1994 and 1996 received a high school diploma between the ages of 20 and 22 because of the CFPI.

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Overall, high school graduation rates in Colorado increased from 88% before CFPI implementation to 92% after. About half of that gain was due to the program. Improvements were even greater for Hispanic women: graduation rates increased from 77% to 87%. The researchers attributed the 5% increase to the CFPI.

“Supporting access to contraception does not eliminate disparities in high school graduation, but we find that it can contribute significantly to reducing them,” said Stevenson, who believes the Colorado results translate into other states.

Accessible contraception also promotes higher graduation rates, said co-author Sara Yeatman, an associate professor of health and behavioral sciences at the University of Colorado at Denver.

“We believe there is also an indirect effect,” Yeatman said in the statement, suggesting that access to contraception is a power. “The confidence that can control her own fertility can help a young woman invest in her education and in her future.”

The research team is now looking at whether increased access to birth control can influence women’s future in other ways. They expect the findings to inform the conversation, as U.S. lawmakers are considering proposals to increase Title X funding, lift restrictions that force teens to obtain parental consent to control birth rates and increase access.

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The findings were published May 5 in the journal Scientific advances.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information on women’s reproductive health.

SOURCE: University of Colorado, press release, May 5, 2021



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