Religious-right groups have insisted that requiring health insurance to cover birth control at no cost to women will lead to higher incidences of sexual risk-taking and sexually transmitted infections. Now an extensive new study shows those arguments are a load of bunkum.
Women and teen girls participating in a study that provided free birth control did not take up riskier sexual practices as a result, contrary to fears among some social conservatives, a new report says.
The participants were less likely to have sex with more than one man after the program began. And though they did have sex a bit more often, they were no more likely to be diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases, according to results published online Thursday in Obstetrics & Gynecology.
The same study, involving 9,256 girls and women in the St. Louis area, previously showed the free birth control program dramatically reduced abortions and unintended pregnancies.
The latest findings should dispel “the idea that the only thing standing between women and promiscuity is a fear of pregnancy,” says project director Gina Secura, a researcher at Washington University.
But, as usual, science and real facts aren’t silencing critics on the religious right. The same USA Today article quotes a spokesperson from the Family Research Council:
Arina Grossu, director of the council’s Center for Human Dignity, says she finds the new study unconvincing and believes more contraception does lead to more risky sex. “Contraception gives women a false sense of safety” from pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, she says. “Women think they are completely protected, and they are not.”
So Grossu simply repeats talking points that real evidence shows are simply not true. Big surprise. The religious right’s campaign against birth control, just like sex education, has always been based largely on distortions and scare tactics. That’s unlikely to change, no matter what the facts say.