Planned Parenthood has announced that it is launching a program to allow women to obtain hormonal contraception, primarily birth control pills but also contraceptive patches and vaginal hormonal rings via an e-visit online. This is an attempt to try to reduce the incidence of unplanned and undesired pregnancies that often occur because of women delaying a visit to a doctor to get reliable contraception. The statistic quoted in the article I read in the Seattle Times is that the time delay from beginning sexual activity to obtaining reliable contraception averages 6-9 months. Per the CDC 77% or pregnancies in women under age 20 and 50% of pregnancies in women age 20-24 are unplanned. This resulted in 220,000 live births resulting from unplanned teen pregnancies in US teens in 2012. It led to about 112,000 abortions by U.S.teens in 2010. (CDC stats)
As this venture by Planned Parenthood is likely to be controversial I want to lay out the pros and cons as I see them to this venture by Planned Parenthood.
|Access on shorter notice to women who want hormonal contraception. This may reduce the time from onset of sexual activity to effective contraception.||Possibly prescribing hormonal contraception to some women for whom this puts them at higher risk of complications of treatment. (e.g. hypertensive women)|
|Removal of the barriers of transportation to health care provider location.||Women will not have in person visit and relationship with provider.|
|Reduction in cost to Planned Parenthood to provide contraceptive services (probably)||Chlamydia and other STDs may not be discovered|
|Barrier of concern by some women of discovery of requesting contraception (being seen going to Planned Parenthood or other office)|
|Theoretical reduction in unplanned pregnancy|
|If less unplanned pregnancies then likely reduce number of abortions|
From my perspective the evaluation of pros vs. cons is clearcut. I am in favor of allowing women to use an e-visit to Planned Parenthood to obtain effective contraception quickly and inexpensively if it leads to less unplanned pregnancies. A minor reduction of unplanned pregnancy the advantages will outweigh the potential risks. Unplanned pregnancy is unacceptably common in America. The consequences of children being born into suboptimal circumstances, of abortions with the associated risks, and the costs to society of these outcomes is simply too high to not look for better ways to prevent unplanned pregnancy. Kudos to Planned Parenthood for having the courage and imagination to undertake this attempt to reduce barriers to effective contraception. Hopefully more women will benefit from access to effective contraception.