There’s a lot of disagreement in Washington these days, and working across the aisle seems increasingly more challenging. Unfortunately, contraception — and particularly the ability to access it — is a flashpoint issue for some national political leaders and decision-makers. But the reality is that outside of the Beltway; birth control is not controversial. In fact, data show that everyone — regardless of sex, political affiliation, age, race or geographic location — loves birth control.
Simply put, almost everybody agrees that birth control enables women to decide if, when and under what circumstances to get pregnant, saves money, improves the lives of families and reduces abortions. In fact, more than nine in 10 adults (93 percent of Republicans and 98 percent of Democrats) say that for those not trying to get pregnant, using birth control is taking personal responsibility.
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy commissioned polling by Republican pollster Kristin Soltis Anderson that found among young Republican women, that there is widespread agreement that birth control is morally acceptable. Sixty-three percent of young Republican women think that access to birth control is not only acceptable, but also important because it enables women to work toward educational and career goals.
Fifty-eight percent of young Republicans believe that every woman should have access to affordable, effective birth control because it is cheaper to prevent an unplanned pregnancy than to pay for the consequences of one — and that certainly is true. For every dollar spent on birth control, $7 are saved. The good news is that 75 percent of adults favor continuing the Title X program, which provides free or low-cost birth control to people who cannot otherwise afford it (including 66 percent of Republicans and 84 percent of Democrats). Although President Donald Trump’s proposed budget maintains the current level of funding for Title X, it proposes eliminating the Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) Program altogether, one of the very few federal government programs based on results and evidence that supports a wide variety of approaches to preventing teen pregnancy.
The proposed budget also would eliminate all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides birth control to millions of women — many of whom could not otherwise afford it. Many of these women live in contraceptive deserts — counties where Planned Parenthood is the only provider of the full range of contraceptive methods. Something that also might be surprising is that there is bipartisan support for access to birth control as part of health care. In fact, 81 percent of adults agree that birth control is a basic part of women’s health care.
The reality is that it doesn’t matter what political party you belong to, or which candidate you voted for. Taking ownership and responsibility for personal decisions is a fundamental American value. With that said, we need to ensure that everyone has access to the health services and contraception they need to act on their responsibility and to take control of their futures.
Finally, access to contraception also reduces the need for abortion. Forty-two percent of the 2.8 million unplanned pregnancies in the U.S. end in abortion. Helping women avoid unplanned pregnancy through the use of effective birth control reduces abortion, and most Americans (76 percent) agree that those who oppose abortion should strongly support birth control.
Birth control is not a wedge issue for the public, and it shouldn’t be for policymakers. Birth control benefits women, men, children, and society. Now is the time to move the narrative from the politics of birth control to what it makes possible for all — ensuring that everyone in our nation benefits equally.
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