A new survey released by the Guttmacher Institute last week confirms that the recession is impacting women’s reproductive health choices. The survey, which looked at approximately 1,000 low- and middle-income sexually active women in the United States, found that 44% of women wanted to delay pregnancy or limit the number of children they have due to financial concerns.
However, although 64% of women agreed with the statement, “With the economy the way it is, I can’t afford to have a baby right now,” the survey also included statistics suggesting that financial problems are making it harder for women to use contraception effectively, or for some women, to use it at all:
- Nearly one in four women reported having put off a gynecological or birth-control visit in the past year, to save money;
- 23 percent reported having a harder time paying for birth control than in the past;
- Among women using the birth-control pill, 18 percent reported inconsistent use as a way to save money.
Dr. Sharon Gamp, Guttmacher president and CEO, breaks down the conundrum that women are facing in today’s economy:
The recession has put many women—including middle-class women who are having trouble making ends meet—in an untenable situation. They want to avoid unintended pregnancy more than ever, but at the same time are having difficulty affording the out-of-pocket costs of prescription contraception. Unfortunately, while delaying a prescription refill or skipping pills may save women money in the short term, it increases their risk of an unintended pregnancy and results in greater costs related to abortion and unplanned birth later on.
In other words, some women who know that they cannot afford to raise a child also cannot afford birth control, a circumstance that may actually cause the number of unplanned pregnancies to rise in coming years. You can check out the entire report, “A Real-Time Look at the Impact of the Recession on Women’s Family Planning and Pregnancy Decisions,” here (PDF).