Teen pregnancy is at an all-time low. The teen birth rate fell 8 percent from 2014 to 2015, continuing a trend that started in 2007, according to the Center for Disease Control. With the attacks on the Affordable Care Act under President Donald Trump’s administration, however, this might be the last we see of a statistic like this.
One contributing factor to the low teen pregnancy numbers is that teenagers are having less sex. In 1991, 54 percent of high school students reported having sex; by 2015, however, this decreased to 41 percent, according to the Research Center for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention.
Another key factor in reducing teen pregnancy is the increasing availability of birth control. The most popular method of birth control is condoms, which are 85 percent effective and are important to use for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.
Other forms of birth control have become increasingly popular as well. These include birth control pills and shots, which are both over 90 percent effective. Arm implants and intrauterine devices—which are both 99 percent effective—are also growing more prevalent, according to Planned Parenthood.
The increased use of hormonal birth control can be attributed to many factors, including a higher quality of sexual education in schools or outreach by sexual health organizations like Planned Parenthood. Ultimately, the record low statistics on teenage births cannot ignore the effect that the ACA, or “Obamacare,” had on increasing access to birth control.
The ACA mandates that all health insurance agencies cover Food and Drug Administration approved forms of birth control with no out-of-pocket fees, including deductibles or co-payments. This covers 55 million women annually and has been estimated to have saved women $1.4 billion on birth control pills in 2013 alone, according to the National Women’s Law Center.
With the new administration, the ACA has faced a relentless threat of repeal. Repeal would mean that tens of millions of women will no longer have access to birth control—and many cannot afford to pay for birth control if it is not covered by their insurance.
Threats to the ACA endanger teenagers and young adults, who are at higher risk of not having health insurance, even under current legislation. Currently, over 10 million young adults are not covered, according to the Urban Institute. This number will presumably rise if the ACA is repealed without a replacement—following the most recent Republican plan.
Fear of losing coverage has led to a greater number of women seeking more permanent forms of birth control. Long-term options include Nexplanon—an arm implant, which lasts up to four years, and IUDs.
There are five types of IUDs, four being hormonal: Skyla, which lasts for three years; Liletta, which lasts for four years; Kyleena, which lasts for five years and Mirena, which lasts for six years. The fifth type is the Paragard copper IUD, which provides coverage for 12 years, according to Planned Parenthood.
Under Trump’s administration, the number of women who have gotten or plan to get IUDs has skyrocketed. The number of women seeking IUDs has gone up 900 percent, according to Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards in an interview with CNN.
This indicates that a significant number of women fear what the Trump administration and its conservative agenda means for their access to birth control.
Unplanned pregnancies can permanently interrupt a woman’s life and career plans. Teen mothers are less likely to complete high school or college, according to research done by the National Conference of State Legislatures—something Republicans and the Trump administration need to keep in mind when repealing the ACA.
Taking away access to birth control negatively affects all American women.u