On Thanks, Birth Control Day, we give thanks for the many opportunities birth control has and continues to make possible for women, families and society since the Supreme Court made it legal for married women in 1965 and all women in 1972.
Megan was raised by her grandparents in a remote, small town in Eastern Kentucky. For a young person trying to avoid an unplanned pregnancy, information about contraception was not readily available. When she needed contraception, Megan consulted with her gynecologist who, through shared decision-making, provided her with the care she needed.
Later, when the pharmacy in Megan’s new college town wouldn’t fill her prescription, every month Megan was forced to drive two hours each way so that her pharmacy back home could fill her prescription. Thanks to birth control, and sheer perseverance to avoid an unplanned pregnancy, Megan was able to do just that, finish school and pursue her professional goals.
Megan’s story rings true for countless people living in rural towns where access to the full spectrum of contraceptive options is a real challenge with real consequences. In fact, research shows that millions of women still live in contraceptive deserts, where they lack reasonable access to a clinic in their county that provides the full range of contraceptive options.
2020 Shows Heightened Need for Birth Control Access
These challenges appear to be increasing as the pandemic further limits contraceptive access and takes a financial toll, particularly on women with lower incomes. Not surprisingly, public concern over the ability to access and afford a preferred method of contraception is growing.
In fact, a new poll released by Power to Decide shows that 51 percent of respondents age 18 and over (and 59 percent of respondents age 18 to 34) are concerned about the ability to afford or access contraception considering the most recent change in the Supreme Court.
Further data also revealed that Democrats were significantly (69 percent) more likely to be concerned than Independents (49 percent) or Republicans (32 percent) about the shift in the Supreme Court.
The same survey also revealed a notable increase for the appreciation for birth control compared to last year. The vast majority of respondents age 18 to 34 (94 percent)—compared to 72 percent in 2019—said they are thankful that birth control allows them or their partner to decide if, when and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child.
Further, 84 percent appreciate birth control for the ability to work toward educational or professional goals—compared to 57 percent in 2019. And 74 percent (compared to 57 percent last year) are thankful that birth control allows them to manage health conditions.
‘Thanks, Birth Control’ Day Celebrates All That Contraception Makes Possible
This and other survey findings were released Wednesday from Power to Decide in honor of its eighth annual Thanks, Birth Control Day. On Thanks, Birth Control Day we give thanks for the many opportunities birth control has and continues to make possible for women, families and society since the Supreme Court made it legal for married women in 1965 and all women in 1972.
What birth control makes possible is evident in every opportunity that has allowed women to thrive. To name a few, birth control has contributed to the 30 percent rise in women’s wage gains between the 1960s and the 1990s.
In addition, between 1970 and 2017, the proportion of women age 25 and older with at least a high school diploma increased from 55 percent to 90 percent, and the proportion with at least a bachelor’s degree increased from 8 percent to 35 percent.
Further, women who have access to contraception between the ages of 18 to 21 make 5 percent more per hour and 11 percent more per year by the time they are 40.
Our work in reproductive health tells us that the pandemic and shift of the Supreme Court have contributed to the increase in people’s concerns over their ability to access the health care they need to stay healthy. We must harness all the increased support and appreciation reflected in our survey and continue to work towards ensuring that the full range of contraception options is available to all. Only then can we help reduce the challenges young people like Megan presently face.
Today, on Thanks, Birth Control Day, we take a moment to recognize all that birth control helps make possible—particularly the power to decide if, when and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child.
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