Use of contraception did more to reduce abortions than restrictive laws – of course

❝ US women are having abortions at the lowest rate on record since Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion, according to a new report. In fact, contrary to popular opinion, the abortion rate has been steadily declining for decades.

❝ The new report comes from a massive census of US abortion providers taken every three years by the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit research organization that supports legal abortion. It’s surprisingly difficult to get accurate data on abortion in the US…but Guttmacher’s census is the most comprehensive available on the subject…

❝ The abortion ratio — the proportion of abortions to live births — is also down to historic lows. In 1995, the abortion ratio was about 26 abortions for every 100 live births; in 2014, it was 18.8…

The abortion rate mostly fell because more women used birth control, and used more reliable methods…

But abortion rates in the US have been falling even faster than usual since 2008 — 3 or 4 percent per year instead of about 2. And while Guttmacher researchers Rachel Jones and Jenna Jerman caution that more research is needed to fully understand the link between abortion access and abortion rates, better contraception appears to be the main reason.

RTFA for a reasoned discussion about conclusions drawn by pro-choice scientists relying on data vs anti-abortion rights ideologues whose belief systems ignore credible data.

Sound familiar?

Woman sues Catholic hospital that refused to remove her IUD

❝ An Illinois woman is accusing a Catholic hospital of refusing to remove her birth control device because of the hospital system’s religious affiliations, causing her nearly a week of pain and bleeding while she was forced to seek help from a different hospital network.

❝ Melanie Jones, who is being represented by attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, said she dislodged her copper intrauterine device (IUD), a form of long-acting birth control, in 2008 when she slipped and fell on a wet bathroom floor. After a night of cramping and bleeding, she went to a hospital controlled by the Chicago-based Mercy Hospital and Medical Center network, where a doctor confirmed that her IUD needed to be removed.

But the doctor refused to remove it, Jones claims in two separate lawsuits, saying the hospital’s “Catholic initiative” barred her from providing any care related to contraception. In fact, the doctor allegedly told her, every single provider in her Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance network followed the same religious restrictions.

❝ Jones left the hospital with her IUD still dislodged, leaving her “at risk for infection, cervical and uterine lacerations, and scarring, and pregnancy”, she claims in her suits. Because she could not pay out-of-pocket for a visit to the emergency room, she did not get her IUD removed for another five days, when Blue Cross Blue Shield moved her coverage to a secular network of hospitals…

❝ Catholic ethicists argue that their rules are consistent with modern standards of care. But public health advocates have warned that the rules are subject to arbitrary interpretations, and that they pose a special threat to women’s reproductive care

❝ One out of every six beds in the country’s acute care hospitals is in a hospital with Catholic affiliations, according to a May report by the American Civil Liberties Union and MergerWatch, a public health watchdog that monitors healthcare institutions with religious affiliations. Today, Catholic hospitals make up 15%, or 548, of the country’s acute care centers. In dozens of communities, the only hospitals that remain are Catholic.

Mergers and acquisitions have increased the number of Catholic Church-controlled hospitals in the US by 22% in the last decade. In many of these communities, staff have left because of archaic regulations required by the church.

RTFA for other cases brought against the so-called Mercy Health Partners in recent years. It’s an important question for insurers, federal and private. Especially in a nation supposedly governed by secular civil law over religious beliefs.

Yes, anti-abortion nutballs want to stop contraception, too

A rapid increase in the number of U.S. women turning to intrauterine devices to prevent pregnancy has prompted escalating attacks on the birth control method from groups that oppose abortion.

The next battle will be at the U.S. Supreme Court, which has agreed to consider a new religious challenge to contraceptives coverage under President Obama’s healthcare law. Although the case deals broadly with whether religiously affiliated groups should be exempt from providing birth control coverage to their employees, some parties in the case have focused specifically on IUDs…

Here’s the religious rationale:

“IUDs are a life-ending device,” said Mailee Smith, staff counsel for the Americans United for Life, which filed an amicus brief in support of the challenge before the high court. “The focus of these cases is that requiring any life-ending drug is in violation of the Religious Freedom Act.”

IUD use among U.S. women using contraceptives grew to 10.3 percent in 2012 from 2 percent in 2002, according to the Guttmacher Institute, making them the fastest growing birth-control method. Their popularity has grown as women recognized that newer versions of the device don’t carry the same safety risks as a 1970s-era IUD known as the Dalkon Shield.

Now more than 10 percent of U.S. women using contraceptives use IUDs. Other forms of birth control, such as daily pills, are on the decline…

Planned Parenthood, long a target from religious groups for providing access to abortions, has also become a significant source of the devices, with IUD use by its patients up 57 percent between 2009 and 2013.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration created an exemption for houses of worship and some related organizations that object to funding birth control for employees, but now other types of religiously affiliated groups want similar waivers.

The consequences of Obama’s wavering over separation of church and state:

In 2014, the Supreme Court accepted the position of Hobby Lobby, a chain of craft stores owned by religious Christians, ruling that private companies that are closely-controlled could opt out of contraception coverage based on the owners’ beliefs.

Hobby Lobby, among other things, objected to birth control that could prevent “an embryo from implanting in the womb,” including two types of IUDs…

The current high court case consolidates seven lawsuits filed by nonprofit groups with religious affiliations, such as colleges and retirement homes run by nuns. The ruling could be applied to more than 100 similar lawsuits, potentially affecting hundreds of thousands of women, according to lawyers on both sides of the issue. Little Sisters of the Poor, one of the plaintiffs, has for example more than 2,000 employees.

We’re talking about unintended consequences. Obama included a perfectly reasonable opt-out for True Believers. But, the dog-in-the-manger politics of folks like Hobby Lobby extends to keeping employees from having any rights at all. Unless we have an executive branch that fights for separation of church and state, a Supreme Court steered by reactionaries can behave just as consistently backwards as Congress.

Having only two classes of politicians – conservatives and cowards – doesn’t help along progress for ordinary working families.

Obamacare’s birth control coverage saving women beaucoup money

Women are saving a lot of money as a result of a health law requirement that insurance cover most forms of prescription contraceptives with no additional out-of-pocket costs, according to a new study. But the amount of those savings and the speed with which those savings occurred surprised researchers.

The study…found that the average birth control pill user saved $255 in the year after the requirement took effect. The average user of an intrauterine device (IUD) saved $248. Those savings represented a significant percentage of average out-of-pocket costs.

“These are healthy women and this on average is their No. 1 need from the healthcare system,” said Nora Becker, an MD-PhD candidate at the University of Pennsylvania and lead author of the study. “On average, these women were spending about 30% to 44% of their total out of pocket health spending just on birth control.”…

Becker said that while making birth control substantially cheaper may not increase the number of women who use it, the new requirements could well shift the type of birth control they use to longer-acting, more effective methods like the IUD. “If prior to the ACA a woman was facing $10 to $30 a month for the pill but hundreds of dollars upfront for an IUD and now both are free, we might see a different choice,” she said.

Of course, the Republican Party thinks all these women are sluts.

Gynecologists think IUDs are the best contraceptive

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are amazingly, fantastically good at preventing pregnancy — better than pretty much any other available contraceptive.

Birth control pills, which have to be taken regularly — are susceptible to human error. The pill has a 6 percent failure rate. So out of 1,000 women taking birth control pills, 60 will become pregnant in a typical year. Among women who use an IUD, that number will be between 2 and 8 (depending on the type of IUD they use).

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends IUDs and the contraceptive implant (the one other long-acting, reversible contraceptive) as a “first-line” contraceptive that should be “encouraged as an option for most women.”

But despite IUDs’ incredible efficacy, few American women — just 8.5 percent of contraceptive-users — choose this method. The devices tend to get an especially bad rap in the United States because of the Dalkon Shield, an early IUD from the 1970s. It was hard to insert…sometimes failed to prevent pregnancy, injured as many as 200,000 women, and sometimes led to infertility or even death. All in all, it was a terrible contraceptive that was subsequently pulled from the market.

Today’s IUDs are different: they’re safer, easier to insert, and they work incredibly well. That probably explains why 40 percent of gynecologists using a contraceptive are using IUDs — way more than the general population…

RTFA. It’s long and really detailed. Lots of questions are answered – factually, reasonably, in human-speak.

Pretty useful article.

Texas healthcare – state sues clinic for not charging enough!

A Grapevine women’s clinic and six of its physicians have been accused of offering their patients unauthorized birth-control products from Canada.

In a lawsuit, Attorney General Greg Abbott said Women’s Integrated Healthcare obtained intrauterine devices from an online Canadian pharmacy even though Bayer, their manufacturer, offers a U.S. version. Neither the attorney general’s office nor Bayer has claimed that the device is unsafe.

Doctors at Women’s Integrated Healthcare said that they turned to Canada because they were desperate to provide a safe but less expensive IUD for patients who were uninsured and could not afford the U.S. version. The Mirena IUD costs about $200 in Canada and $700 in the United States.

I, as a physician, always thought it was a physician’s duty to go to bat for my patients and that’s what I tried to do,” said Dr. Angela Cope, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Women’s Integrated Healthcare. “We’re surprised to be in this situation for a device that is exactly the same worldwide…”

RTFA and learn this is exactly the same device produced by an American company in Finland – it’s just that Americans are charged 350% more than Canadians and the great state of Texas wants it to stay that way.

Health advisory information and physician instructions were printed in Scandinavian languages. The physicians attempted to address the differences by removing the foreign labeling and inserting an English warning downloaded from a website…

“Whether the Mirena IUD gets on an airplane in Finland and comes to Canada or America, the product is exactly the same,” Cope said…

This summer, physicians in Rhode Island also came under fire for importing the devices from Canada. The FDA and Bayer have issued warnings to physicians about selling the unapproved devices. Cope said that the Grapevine practice had already stopped using the devices by the time the FDA warning went out and that they never received a letter from the manufacturer.

Rick Perry and his flunkies don’t have anything more important to do for Texas healthcare than to attack a women’s clinic run by women healthcare professionals? Right?

Good ol’ boy politicians continue to front for corporate profits.