Study Shows that Access to Cheap and Easy Contraception Increases Sexual Activity on College Campuses

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Survey data on contraceptive use and sexual activity was obtained from the National College Health Assessment (NCHA) and the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG). The results indicated that increases in the cost of oral contraceptives reduced use of the birth control pill. Not surprisingly, this decrease in pill usage was even more dramatic among college women who lacked health insurance and among college women who had large credit card balances. The study also found that after the price of oral contraceptives increased – there were statistically significant decreases in both the frequency of sexual intercourse and the number of sex partners.

The fact the easy access to contraceptives increases the amount of sexual activity explains why programs to distribute or subsidize contraceptives often fail to reduce the unintended pregnancy rate. Even Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen co-authored a study in 1996 which showed that easy access to oral contraception increased the amount of sexual activity – and might have resulted in increases in both the unintended pregnancy rate and the out-of-wedlock birth rate. Furthermore, even though contraceptive use has been increasing consistently over time – the unintended pregnancy rate has held relatively constant. Mainstream media pundits who complain pro-lifers need to become more contraception friendly should take a closer look at this and other studies.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org

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About Author

MICHAEL J. NEW, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Michigan – Dearborn. He is also an Adjunct Scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the Research and Education Arm of the Susan B. Anthony List. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate from Dartmouth College, Dr. New received a master’s degree in statistics and a doctorate in political science from Stanford University in 2002. Before coming to Michigan, Dr. New worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Harvard-MIT Data Center and later taught at The University of Alabama. Dr. New researches and writes about the social science of pro-life issues. He gives presentations on both the positive impact of pro-laws and the gains in public support for the pro-life position. He is a frequent blogger on National Review Online's "The Corner." Dr. New's study pro-life legislation was recently published by State Politics and Policy Quarterly. Four of his other studies on the effects of pro-life legislation have been published by the Heritage Foundation and another study was published by Family Research Council in 2008.

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