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Julie Burkhart: Contraception is power

Burkhart
Burkhart

Being able to better manage fertility can make a big difference in a woman’s life. Having access to contraception that works with her body, lifestyle and personal preferences helps a woman live a healthier life and enables her to fully take part in all aspects of life.

Recently, the Guardian newspaper published “Adventures in contraception: Eight women discuss their choices.” The article detailed eight women’s experiences with different types of contraception. One of the things the story highlighted was how amazing it is to be able to choose the contraception method that is best for you.

The ability to choose from among different methods and the freedom this allows women is at the heart of recent controversies such as the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment found that being able to access contraception, particularly long-acting reversible contraception such as IUDs, helped young people prevent unplanned pregnancies at a 40 percent higher rate. Naysayers and regressive-minded pundits have often said that increasing access to birth control will encourage young people to engage in risky sexual behavior. Colorado is proving them wrong. Having access to birth control doesn’t cause people to engage in risky behavior; it simply prevents unplanned pregnancy.

Preventing unplanned pregnancies reduces abortion rates. The Guttmacher Institute found that greater access to more effective methods of birth control was part of the reason the U.S. abortion rate declined between 2008 and 2011.

All of these studies and stories inspire us to continue fighting to ensure all people can access birth control. Imagine how much women could achieve if they had greater access to birth control. We call on community, local and state leaders to work to provide contraceptive services to their communities.

Julie Burkhart is CEO of South Wind Women’s Center in Wichita.

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