National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

Utah partnership offers no-cost contraception; Researcher: Initial findings show cost impedes LARC access

The University of Utah Family Planning Research Group and the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah (PPAU) have partnered to provide women in the Salt Lake City area with no-cost contraception and contraceptive counseling over the course of one year, Rewire reports (Meyer, Rewire, 11/11).

Background

According to CDC data, about half of pregnancies in the United States are unintended. The percentage of unintended pregnancies in Utah is about 36 percent (Leonard, Deseret News, 11/13). In 2014, 207,350 Utah women were in need of publicly funded contraception services and supplies (Rewire, 11/11).

David Turok, an OB-GYN in Salt Lake City and founder of the project, said, "In this community, for a long time it has been difficult for women to access all methods of contraception." He added that while intrauterine devices (IUD) and implants are the most effective forms of contraception, they are also the hardest to access (Deseret News, 11/13).

HER Salt Lake

The HER Salt Lake initiative aims to eliminate cost barriers that impede access to contraception, while also informing women and the public about the range of contraception options (Deseret News, 11/13). Contraception available through the initiative includes highly effective reversible (HER) methods, such as IUDs and implants, as well as contraceptive rings, oral contraception and hormonal injections. Further, women participating in the program may change methods at no cost within the first three years until they find the method that is most appropriate for them. Contraception is provided at PPAU health centers.

The initiative launched in March 2016 and will end in March 2017. More than 3,100 women received no-cost contraception during the initiative's first six months. Researchers project the initiative will provide contraception to 7,000 women by the time it concludes.

Based on those projections, a Guttmacher Institute calculator estimates that the initiative will prevent 1,750 unintended pregnancies; 870 unintended births; 600 abortions; 290 miscarriages from unintended pregnancies; 230 short-interval births, which occur when women get pregnant within 18 months of giving birth; and 120 unintended preterm or low-birth weight births. According to Rewire, the program is projected to save the state and federal government more than $8.5 million in costs related to miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies and maternal and birth care.

Researchers will use the project to conduct a longitudinal study to research economic, educational, social and health outcomes tied to no-cost contraception over the course of three years.

Initial findings

Of the roughly 3,100 women who have received contraception through the initiative, 46 percent have selected an IUD or implant and 30 percent have selected oral contraception. Rewire reports that the number of women who left health centers with an IUD or implant more than doubled over the first six months of the initiative (Rewire, 11/11).

Kyl Myers, a sociologist at the University of Utah and project facilitator, explained, "As soon as we removed the cost, more women were choosing IUDs and implants, which are the most effective methods but also have the most expensive upfront cost." She added, "We are seeing that it really was the cost that was keeping women from getting the type of contraceptive method they really want" (Deseret News, 11/13).