“The ability to control whether and when you become pregnant is a basic human right, since pregnancy and childbirth have enormous implications for social and economic life trajectories,” says Maria Steenland, an assistant professor of population studies (research) at Brown University who is affiliated with the Population Studies and Training Center.

Steenland says that in 2012, South Carolina’s Medicaid program became the first in the United States to reimburse hospitals for the provision of immediate postpartum long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). LARCs, which prevent pregnancy for extended periods of time without any effort on the patient’s part, include intrauterine devices, arm implants, and hormonal injections. Her study analyzing the effects of the policy found that expanded access to particular forms of birth control were especially helpful in preventing unintended pregnancies among adolescents who had just given birth, giving them more control over their own futures.

“Contraceptive choice is based on many factors, such as side effects, reversibility, and effectiveness,” Steenland says. “Our study shows that making these new contraceptive methods available can make it easier for patients to find a method that meets their needs and preferences, and ultimately it can give them more agency in deciding whether and when to become pregnant again.”

Read the full article about contraception access by Jill Kimball at Futurity.