A large body of research has shown that making contraception accessible and affordable has tremendous social and economic benefits not just for the person taking the pill, but for the country at large. The ability to plan if and when you will have kids means less stress and more financial freedom for you, and more available resources for the community. Some states haven't gotten the memo, though, and instead, have passed legislation that seriously limits reproductive rights. In fact, the states that have the worst abortion restrictions also significantly curtail access to birth control. That means people in those areas are more likely to experience an unwanted pregnancy, and that could have far-reaching consequences.
Take, for example, Mississippi. On Monday, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law the most restrictive — and dangerous — anti-abortion bill in the United States, according to NPR. (On Tuesday, a federal judge will hear abortion advocates' request to block the law from going into effect, Axios reported.) It's the first state to prohibit abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, shaving off more than a month from the abortion ban Mississippi already has on the books. Sixteen other states ban the procedure at about 20 weeks of gestation, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Not surprisingly, Mississippi is among a handful of states that give certain entities the power to deny people contraception. The Guttmacher Institute lists Mississippi among eight states that have expansive refusal clauses allowing religious groups, including some hospitals and insurers, to refuse to provide contraception coverage. The other places include Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Connecticut, and West Virginia, plus the District of Columbia. Two states — Illinois and Missouri — have almost unlimited exemptions for religious and secular organization to deny contraception coverage, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
That's not all. Mississippi is also one of six states that allows pharmacists, directly, to deny people emergency contraception. The other states include Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, and South Dakota. Five other states — Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maine, and Tennessee — have passed broadly worded emergency contraception refusal policies that could be applied to pharmacists and pharmacies, the Guttmacher Institute reported.
Of those states, Illinois, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Colorado, Maine, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia do not have anti-choice laws banning abortions after 20 weeks of gestation, according to NARAL Pro-Choice America. Three states that do —Idaho, Arizona, and Arkansas — have had their laws enjoined, partially enjoined, or found unconstitutional and unenforceable, NARAL reported.
Limiting access to birth control is counter-intuitive for states. A 2010 Milbank Quarterly study found that, for every dollar invested in contraception access, it saved $7.09 in Medicaid expenditures that would have covered pregnancy, delivery, and early childhood care. In other words: It's economically prudent for states to make birth control accessible and affordable.
Surprisingly, not all states with restrictive abortion laws are in the business of denying people birth control. Utah has a number of anti-abortion laws on the books, including mandated counseling, and limits on insurance coverage, according to the Guttmacher Institute. But this month, the Utah legislature passed two laws that would expand access to contraception and family-planning services, particularly to thousands of women from low-income households, as well as allow pharmacists to dispense birth control directly, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. The bills still have to be signed into law by Gov. Gary Herbert.
Birth control is safe and cheap. Pregnancy is risky and expensive. When states deny access to birth control and abortion, they have made a recipe for disaster. And that's not only effects a person's well-being — it also hurts the state budget. If anti-choice states really want to "eliminate" abortion, they would expand access to the very thing that would prevent pregnancy in the first place.
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