Health

Americans Across Party Lines Think We Should Talk More About Birth Control

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thanks birth control

CREDIT: Thanks Birth Control Day

Policies to expand access to all forms of birth control have broad bipartisan support, and most Americans think we would benefit from talking more about the positive effects of contraception, according to new research released by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy on Thursday.

Support for contraception transcends party lines, with with 82 percent of Democrats, 80 percent of Independents, and 70 percent of Republicans agreeing that anti-abortion lawmakers should work to expand access to birth control. Plus, about eight in 10 adults surveyed said they think more people would use birth control if Americans were comfortable talking openly about it — including information about the different types of contraceptive options and their various health benefits.

That’s one of the reasons why the National Campaign is preparing for its second annual “Thanks, Birth Control” Day next week. That social media campaign, which encourages people to participate under the hashtag #ThxBirthControl, will be an opportunity to encourage people to speak up about how using birth control has changed their lives.

“Birth control matters: The ability to plan, prevent, and space pregnancies is directly linked to benefits to women, men, children, and society, including more educational and economic opportunities, healthier babies, more stable families, and reduced taxpayer burden,” the website for the campaign explains. “It’s a normal part of life and should not be a taboo topic or the subject of political posturing.”

According to previous research in the field, young Americans — one of the groups most at risk for unplanned pregnancies — wish they heard about their reproductive health resources more often. A 2013 survey found that, among women between the ages of 18 and 29, about 50 percent said they would like to see more celebrities talk about birth control. Forty six percent of respondents said they would be more personally comfortable using contraception if more of the people around them discussed it in a positive way.

When birth control makes headlines, it’s usually accompanied by negative news. The national media frequently covers politicians’ efforts to roll back coverage for contraception, as well as pundits’ assertions that taking the pill makes you a slut. Plus, there are a fair share of scary stories about concerns over birth control’s potential risks. Reproductive health experts say that can leave Americans with the impression that birth control is very controversial, or that it does more harm than good.

But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the development of modern contraception was one of the 10 most important public health achievements of the 20th century. The Guttmacher Institute has confirmed that birth control is critical for helping women achieve their financial goals, like finishing school or holding down a job. And there are a host of health benefits, including preventing painful menstrual cramps or clearing up acne, that accompany hormonal contraception. Those are the messages that “Thanks, Birth Control” Day hopes to emphasize.

The bipartisan support for birth control has even been evident on the political stage recently. In the lead up to the midterm elections, several Republicans threw their support behind over-the-counter birth control as a method of appealing to female voters.