AP Touts Positive 'Effects of Free Birth Control' Under ObamaCare

For today’s ObamaCare press release, timed nicely for the fall campaign, you could open to the Washington Post Express tabloid for the headline “Study Touts Effects of Free Birth Control.”

An AP story announced: “Free birth control led to dramatically lower rates of abortions and teen births, a large study concluded Thursday. The findings were eagerly anticipated and come as a bitterly contested Obama administration policy is poised to offer similar coverage.” (NBC touted the story as well on Friday’s Today.)

AP's own headline was "Study: Free birth control leads to fewer abortions."

The Post Express dispatch was only six paragraphs of the AP story, with no disagreement from social conservatives (which came later). AP had nothing to say about the potential costs to taxpayers if ObamaCare would pay for birth-control implantation, as the researchers at Washington University presented it in their project:

The project tracked more than 9,000 women in St. Louis, many of them poor or uninsured. They were given their choice of a range of contraceptive methods at no cost -- from birth control pills to goof-proof options like the IUD or a matchstick-sized implant.

When price wasn't an issue, women flocked to the most effective contraceptives - the implanted options, which typically cost hundreds of dollars [as much as $800] up-front to insert. These women experienced far fewer unintended pregnancies as a result, reported Dr. Jeffrey Peipert of Washington University in St. Louis in a study published Thursday.

The effect on teen pregnancy was striking: There were 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers in the study. Compare that to a national rate of 34 births per 1,000 teens in 2010.

There also were substantially lower rates of abortion, when compared with women in the metro area and nationally: 4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women in the study, compared with 13.4 to 17 abortions per 1,000 women overall in the St. Louis region, Peipert calculated.

Back in March, AP declared Peipert’s project could provide a “tantalizing” clue of how ObamaCare’s contraceptive subisidies might work:

A major study of nearly 10,000 women that’s under way in St. Louis provides a tantalizing clue about what might happen when that policy takes effect.

Consider: Nearly half of the nation’s 6 million-plus pregnancies each year are unintended. Rates of unplanned pregnancies are far higher among low-income women than their wealthier counterparts. Among the reasons is that condoms can fail. So can birth control pills, if the woman forgets to take them every day or can’t afford a refill.

Only about 5 percent of U.S. women use the most effective contraceptives _ a matchstick-sized implant named Implanon or intrauterine devices known as IUDs. Once inserted, they prevent pregnancy for three, five or 10 years. But Dr. Jeffrey Peipert of Washington University in St. Louis says many women turn them down because of a higher upfront cost that insurance hasn’t always covered _ even though years of pills can cost as much.

“How can we cover Viagra and not IUDs?” wonders Peipert, who is leading the new study.

The answer is moral: impotence is a medical condition, and artificial contraception is an option. But liberals always want to suggest funding Viagra and not contraceptives for women is sexist.

Peipert’s study proclaims in its abstract that it’s intended to be promotional:

OBJECTIVE: To promote the use of long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods (intrauterine devices [IUDs] and implants) and provide contraception at no cost to a large cohort of participants in an effort to reduce unintended pregnancies in our region.

The study also used some teenagers, and the idea that ObamaCare will pay for birth control implants for high-school kids is a moral issue, not just a “public health” issue.

A Nexis search finds the May 2009 edition of the journal Contemporary Sexuality reported "Jeffrey F. Peipert, MD, PhD, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, is attempting to do just that [promote LARC]. The medical school has received $12 million from an anonymous donor for a multi-year, cohort study involving 10,000 women." So who's the donor? Perhaps....a manufacturer of LARC devices? AP doesn't seem to find this question worth asking.

AP even touted the research on Halloween 2010:

A major research study now taking place in St. Louis provides a glimpse of how things might change [under Obama’s health law].

The Contraceptive CHOICE Project is providing free birth control to as many as 10,000 women, tracking their decisions and the results. About 70 percent have chosen long-acting contraceptives such as IUDs (intrauterine devices) or implants, which are reversible and have a much lower failure rate than pills or condoms. The proportion of U.S. women using such methods remains low; part of the reason seems to be higher upfront cost.

"The shift we need to see in the United States is a shift away from methods like the pill and condoms to the most effective methods, like implants and IUDs," said Dr. Jeffrey Peipert, a principal investigator on the study. "And we'll only see that shift if somebody is willing to pay for it."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis