Around this time two years ago, conservative opinions on access to free birth control flooded the media, gaining national attention as Rush Limbaugh publicly bashed Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke for her testimony criticizing her school’s lack of birth control coverage. Limbaugh’s comments–calling Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute,” saying that she is “asking to be paid for sex” and that women who receive no cost birth control should be posting videos online “so we can all watch”–were echoed by the largely misinformed conservative media.
It is now 2014 and the conservative war on women continues; we are still not trusted to make decisions regarding our bodies, futures, and our health. These comments and the politicizing of birth control coverage have inspired a variety of academic research efforts in the United States. This month, a newly published research project, the Contraceptive Choice Project, released their findings. The concept was designed in direct response to conservative claims about the Affordable Care Act’s universal coverage of birth control as they believe this policy would promote increased sexual activity, promiscuity and increase pregnancies, abortions and sexually transmitted diseases.
So, the project essentially asks the question, “Is access to no-cost birth control methods associated with the number of partners and frequency of intercourse over time?” Or, in Rush Limbaugh’s words, “Does access to free birth control make you a ‘slut’?”
The answer, published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is no.
The project involved surveying 9,256 females between the ages of 14 and 45 who are considered ‘at risk’ for unintended pregnancy in the St. Louis, Missouri area. The study provided free methods of reversible birth control and found that providing no-cost birth control did not result in more cases of pregnancy, abortion, or sexually transmitted diseases. In fact, little evidence was found to support the claim that increased risk-taking sexual behavior and greater access to no-cost birth control are linked.
So, there it is. Another conservative talking point bites the dust.