Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Selling the injectable at privately owned drug shops in Ghana could increase modern contraceptive use

The majority of women in Ghana get oral contraceptives and condoms from privately owned drug shops operated by nonpharmacists licensed to sell a variety of over-the-counter medicines. However, these shops are not legally permitted to sell or administer the injectable; the country’s most widely used method. A new study finds that enabling them to do so would increase access to and use of the method. Use of modern contraceptives remains low in Ghana, with only 23% of married women currently using a modern method...more


U.S. women face longer period of risk for unintended pregnancy before beginning childbearing

The typical age at which teens first have sex has remained relatively stable over the past several decades, increasing slightly to 17.8 for women and 18.1 for men in the most recent cohort for whom data are available. However, the typical time between first sex and first birth has increased from three years for women born in 1940 to almost 10 years for women born in 1982…more

An American Woman's age at first sex has changed little


State policy trends: More supportive legislation, even as attacks on abortion rights continue

The 2014 legislative session got off to a fast start, with legislators introducing a combined 733 provisions related to sexual and reproductive health and rights. Significantly, some 64 provisions have been introduced to expand or protect access to abortion, more than had been introduced in any year in the last quarter century. However, as in previous years, state legislatures also continued to take aim at abortion rights, with 38 states introducing 303 provisions seeking to limit women’s access to care...more

Also see our analysis on state policy developments in 2013…more


Abortion coverage under the ACA: achieving transparency and truly informed consumer choice

Consumers purchasing health coverage through the marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have no easy way—and often no way at all—to find out whether a health plan covers abortion care, according to a new Guttmacher analysis. The analysis lays out how this lack of transparency can be addressed by the Obama administration, which has the authority to ensure health plan issuers make such information readily available to consumers nationwide...more


As Supreme Court takes up contraceptive coverage cases, new analysis puts the facts front and center

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The cases on the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage guarantee that will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on March 25 revolve around several important questions of fact that have been misinterpreted and obfuscated by the guarantee’s opponents. A new Guttmacher analysis sets the record straight, including the fact that contraception is distinct from abortion, that contraceptive methods aren’t interchangeable and that cost and lack of method choice can interfere with a woman’s ability to use the method that is best for her...more

Also read the Supreme Court amicus brief the Institute filed in January...more


New report underscores critical importance of family planning programs and providers

Moving Forward Report Cover Image The highly successful U.S. family planning effort helps almost nine million disadvantaged women each year to plan their families and protect their health, while also substantially reducing rates of unintended pregnancy and saving taxpayers more than $10 billion. This new Guttmacher report synthesizes the most up-to-date data and analyses to illustrate the current and future importance of family planning programs and the safety-net providers at the heart of this effort...more


The March 2014 issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health is now available

Click here to find out what is in this issue.


The HEAL Immigrant Women and Families Act would remove harmful barriers to health coverage

Legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico would make a significant difference in increasing immigrants’ eligibility for health insurance coverage and access to health care—including sexual, reproductive and maternal health services. At present, a patchwork of policies put in place over the past two decades has hindered or blocked access altogether, putting affordable health care out of reach for many immigrants…more


County-level tablemaker for contraception needs and services data available now

A new online tool allows users to create customized tables with data on the contraceptive needs and services within a given county or groups of counties in a state. Key data points that can be downloaded into tables include women in need of publicly funded contraceptive services and number of clients served by Title X-supported clinics…more


Unsafe abortion is widespread in Burkina Faso and jeopardizes women’s health and lives

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Some 105,000 abortions occurred in Burkina Faso in 2012, the vast majority of which were clandestine procedures performed under unsafe conditions. Forty-three percent of women who had an unsafe abortion experienced complications serious enough to require treatment, but many of them did not get the medical care they needed...more

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Yet another study shows that access to information and services does not lead to adolescents’ sexual risk-taking

Young women who are vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV) do not engage in riskier sexual behavior as a result, finds a new study. HPV is the most common STI in the United States and the principal cause of cervical cancer. These findings yet again confirm the scientific consensus that providing adolescents access to services and information related to sexual and reproductive health is not linked to riskier sexual behavior, as social conservatives have often argued…more


Guttmacher launches Cory L. Richards Memorial Scholarship

The Guttmacher Institute is pleased to announce the launch of the Cory L. Richards Memorial Scholarship to support emerging leaders in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights. The scholarship honors the legacy of Cory Richards, a member of the Guttmacher Institute staff for nearly four decades, whose passion for mentorship and commitment to leadership development benefited countless individuals in the field…more


U.S. abortion rates hit lowest level since 1973

In 2011 the U.S. abortion rate declined to 16.9 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44, the lowest level since 1973 (16.3 per 1,000) and well below the peak of 29.3 per 1,000 in 1981. Between 2008 and 2011, both the national abortion rate and the number of abortions fell by 13%. This decline spans every region of the country and almost all states…more


December 2013 issue of International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health now available online

The December 2013 issue of International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health is now available online. Click here to find out what is in this issue.


Unintended pregnancy remains a persistent problem in the United States

Unintended pregnancy rates have risen among poor women even as they fell among higher income women Between 2001 and 2008, already large disparities in unintended pregnancy by income level increased. The national unintended pregnancy rate in 2008 was 54 per 1,000 women aged 15–44, meaning that about 5% of women of reproductive age have an unplanned pregnancy each year. Among poor women, however, the rate of unintended pregnancy was more than five times that of women with an income of at least 200% of the federal poverty level (137 vs. 26 per 1,000 women 15–44). The recession and shifts in population demographics may be contributing factors…more

Related: In 2008, more than half of all pregnancies were unintended in 31 states…more


Faith-based groups play important role in promoting access to family planning in the developing world

Contrary to public perception, faith-based organizations from diverse religious backgrounds are key players in providing family planning services around the world and those based in the United States advocate for increased U.S. family planning assistance to boost global health. These groups, including some that oppose abortion rights, explicitly connect their advocacy for family planning to their support for maternal and child health projects, based on evidence that birth spacing is critical to lowering numbers of deaths and disabilities...more


Study shows surge in privately insured women obtaining oral contraceptives with no out-of-pocket cost

The ACA Effect The proportion of privately insured U.S. women who paid $0 out of pocket for oral contraceptive pills increased sharply, from 15% to 40%, after the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) contraceptive coverage guarantee went into wide effect. The new Guttmacher study provides the first quantitative evidence that the cost-sharing protection under the ACA is indeed working as intended…more

Related: Almost 13 million women of reproductive age were uninsured in 2012…more

Also see our video on the benefits of contraceptive use in the United States (English and Spanish) and our infographic showing that contraception is highly effective.


In Uganda, unsafe abortion takes a financial toll on women, children and households

Axiom Photographic/*/Design Pics/Corbis
Unsafe abortion often takes a considerable financial toll on Ugandan women and their families, resulting in a decline in economic stability and household well-being. The findings come from a new study, which found that the majority of women treated for complications from an unsafe abortion experience some adverse economic effect...more


New study provides first abortion estimates for Mexico by state and age

A new report finds that throughout Mexico, high levels of unintended pregnancy result in elevated abortion rates, with 54% of all unintended pregnancies ending in induced abortion. This translates to an estimated one million abortions taking place in the country each year. As abortion is highly restricted throughout Mexico—with the exception of the Federal District of Mexico City—most of these procedures are done clandestinely, putting women’s health at risk. For more information, see our news release in English or Spanish.


A year of magical thinking leads to…unintended pregnancy

In-depth interviews with 49 women obtaining abortions in the United States found that most of the study participants perceived themselves to be at low risk of becoming pregnant at the time that it happened. The most common reasons women gave for thinking they were at low risk of pregnancy included a perception of invulnerability, a belief that they were infertile, self-described inattention to the possibility of pregnancy and thinking that they were protected by their (often incorrect use of a) contraceptive method...more


Births resulting from unintended pregnancies cost federal and state governments $12.5 billion in 2008

Nationally, two out of every three births resulting from unintended pregnancies, approximately 1.1 million births, were paid for by public insurance programs in 2008. Public expenditures on these births—including costs of prenatal care, labor and delivery, postpartum care and one year of care for the infant—totaled $12.5 billion in 2008. Births from unintended pregnancies accounted for 53% of all publicly funded births that year…more


Publicly funded family planning services prevent unwanted pregnancies, generate financial savings

In 2010, publicly funded family planning services in the U.S. helped women prevent 2.2 million unintended pregnancies, which would have resulted in 1.1 million unplanned births and 760,000 abortions. In the absence of these services, national levels of unintended pregnancy, unplanned birth and abortion would be two-thirds higher. By providing women the contraception they need to avoid pregnancies they don’t want, these services yielded savings of $10.5 billion, or $5.68 for every $1 spent…more

Also see our studies on why publicly supported clinics play a critical role in ensuring access to care and on the wide range of health services that family planning centers offer their clients.

Video: Publicly supported family planning services are essential (English and Spanish)


Banning Abortion Endangers Women’s Health infographic now in Spanish and French

Every year, 47,000 women die as a result of unsafe abortions and millions more are injured, some seriously and permanently. Virtually all of these deaths and injuries take place in countries with highly restrictive abortion laws, and they are almost entirely preventable. To help ensure the global debate on abortion is informed by facts, not misinformation, the Guttmacher Institute created an infographic highlighting key statistics on abortion worldwide. We are pleased to announce that this infographic is now available in Spanish and French. Please share them with colleagues and organizations you believe will find them useful.

The Guttmacher Institute gratefully acknowledges the general support it receives from individuals and foundations—including major grants from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and The David and Lucile Packard Foundation—which undergirds all of its work.