Give the women what they want: free birth control


When offered free hormonal contraception for a year, the abortion rate in Tromso and Hamar, Norway was cut in half. As the project came to an end in December 2009, the results offered by the SINTEF Technology and Society scientists were pretty obvious: give sexually active women a free birth control they like, they will use it, and unplanned pregnancies will be reduced by half.

The study was sponsored by the Norwegian government, the Directorate of Health and resulted from concern over the rising number of terminated pregnancies in the country. In 2009, a similar study tracked Norwegian women aged between 16 and 19 who were offered free hormone-based birth control. As a result, abortion rates dropped and reached an all time low in 2005. The next year, when a partial payment plan was introduced the number of terminations rose again and has continued to do so each year.

The study revealed that while the number of women using hormonal contraceptive did not increase, the women who did choose it used it regularly and according to the prescribed instruction. When interviewed the women stated that an important reason for their continuous usage was that it was free. They admitted that when their budgets become restricted, they often sacrifice birth control.

“The offer of free hormonal contraception does not necessarily lead to more users, but to more frequent use,” says Anita Oren, project manager. “If the aim is to reduce the number of termination, the project shows that the offer of free hormonal contraception can be an effective measure. It is also what women themselves say they want.”

Source: SINTEF, Medical News Today


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