Unintended pregnancy rates are falling across the US, according to a new study from the Guttmacher Institute. While the rates aren't consistent across the board, 28 states did see a drop in unintended pregnancies of 5 percent or more since 2006.
This decline coincides with the introduction of new, more effective birth control methods like IUDs, and the resurgence of older methods like natural family planning. But this data doesn't incorporate families who gained access to birth control after Obamacare picked up the tab for out-of-pocket costs; analysis starts in 2002 and caps off at 2010.
Overall, the lowest rate of unplanned pregnancies in any state was New Hampshire, with 36 percent in 2010. Delaware, Hawaii and New York saw the highest rates.
“The decline in unintended pregnancy rates in a majority of states since 2006 is a positive development,” says study author Kathryn Kost. “However, rates remain twice as high in some southern and densely-populated states compared with those in other states—a variation that likely reflects differences in demographic characteristics and socioeconomic conditions across states.”
It's important to note, though, that data was only available in 41 states. In 12 states, unplanned pregnancy rates remained the same, and West Virginia even saw a slight increase between 2006 and 2010. Wondering how researchers could determine whether a pregnancy was planned or unplanned? In most cases, they relied on data from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS), which consists of surveys from mothers who recently delivered via live birth.
We expect that these rates will continue to fall, especially if the pill becomes available over-the-counter with the recent support form the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.