The hypocrisy of the ever-increasing state government attacks on choice is simply appalling as laws have no bearing on whether a woman has an abortion or not. For example, in Africa and Latin America where abortion is largely illegal the rate is 29 and 32 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age (respectively). In Western Europe, where abortion is largely legal and relatively affordable, the rate is 12 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age (Lancet 2012).
As certain state governments (Texas, Virginia, Oklahoma…there’s more, but it’s depressing to list them all) are so interested in offering reproductive medical advice and even legislating where a women with Medicaid can (or can’t) get her Pap smear and birth control pills, I propose they consider legislation that might actually be beneficial: IUDs with no co-payment.
The precedent is there. Under the Affordable Care Act in many circumstances vaccinations and other preventative care services have no co-payment. In addition, as contraception is far cheaper for a health insurance company than pregnancy it’s actually a win-win if more women chose highly effective contraception. No one has to get an IUD (or use any form of contraception for that matter), but as IUDs are the most highly effective, reversible method of contraception (with a hormone-free option) it’s hard to argue against making them more accessible. In addition, IUDs are underutilized in the United States versus other countries, so a public health campaign about the safety and efficacy would go a long way.
IUDs are very safe and have relatively few contraindications (a uterus that is too big or small, an active pelvic infection, or Wilson’s disease for the copper IUD only). IUDs also do not cause infertility (a large study published several years ago proved there was no association between IUDs and tubal factor infertility) and fertility returns the next cycle after removal.
But what about the claim from the far-radical right that IUDs cause abortion of a fertilized egg pre-implantation? Well, studies say no. Several publications have actually looked at flushing out the uterine and tubal contents in IUD wearers to look at the state of the sperm, eggs, and for any embryos (gotta love the women who sign up for these studies, thank you ladies from the bottom of my heart). The copper IUD studies find deformed sperm and damaged eggs, not blastocysts. This is because copper is toxic to both sperm and ova (the egg, so pre-fertilization). There are fewer studies with the Mirena (the IUD with the hormone levonorgestrel), but it appears that the local inflammatory response and hormonal effects are likewise sperm and ova toxic.
So there you have it. IUDs are the most effective, reversible form of contraception and they don’t cause abortion.
To claim a higher agenda of “reducing abortions” and “preserving life” while enacting legislation that will not advance that goal is disgusting and hypocritical, especially considering there are evidence-based medical recommendations that could reduce abortion.
So legislators of Virginia, Texas, Ohio, Oklahoma et. al., you have the attention of a lot of people. If you “care about life” as much as you claim, access to contraception should be your #1 goal. Anything else is just a state sanctioned, misogyny-fueled, theocratic power trip. And I hope everyone remembers that come November 6th.