If it’s true that approximately 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned, how many of those Moms do you think were pleased when they learned a baby was on the way? That’s a really deep question, isn’t it? It’s a major life disruption no matter what. Hard not to wonder if incidents of verbal and physical child abuse — and maternal drug abuse — would decrease if every pregnancy was intended.
The Guttmacher Institute, a U.S. nonprofit focused on reproductive health research, reports that not only is the stat about unplanned pregnancies true; the 50% number has stayed about the same since 1992.
Hmm. Great minds are wondering, what could be done to reduce that number at last?
Result: In November, the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists issued public recommendations for oral contraceptives to be sold without a prescription across the U.S. Their rationale: “Access and cost issues are common reasons why women either do not use contraception use or have gaps in use.” This is the second major healthcare organization to call for such a move. The American Journal of Public Health issued a similar opinion in 1993.
Knocked Up may be a (slightly) funny movie, but it ain’t no joke in real life.
Depression and other mental and physical health issues can affect the Mom-to-be as she considers her options, including adoption, abortion, kinship care and, of course, keeping the child she didn’t plan. An analysis by a leading academic journal estimates that the total financial price tag for America’s little accidents is around $11.1B per year. Billion with a B.
Fears that women will forego health screenings with physicians if The Pill is on a shelf near the pregnancy tests don’t faze the docs. They give women credit for being able to monitor their own bodies, and they advocate that pharmacists should play a larger role in each woman’s healthcare team. And then there’s the peer evidence: maps like this one showing that while many nations around the world still require a prescription for birth control, many others don’t.
“Over-the-counter” switchovers are often accompanied by worry. Worry that someone would stroke out with a nicotine patch. Worry that the “Plan B” emergency contraceptive would lead to more unwanted pregnancies. Didn’t happen. In-home HIV tests went on sale this fall. The sexually active among us are safer for it, and look! The Earth is still spinning.
The Obstetricians & Gynecologists group sums it up nicely: “Weighing the risks versus the benefits based on currently available data, [oral birth control] should be available over-the-counter.”