SPL supports reducing unplanned pregnancies through increased use of contraception.
It’s true that abstinence is 100% effective at preventing pregnancy, and we support those who choose to be sexually abstinent – for whatever reason. However, we recognize that abstinence is not a realistic option for everyone. For people who engage in vaginal sex but aren’t prepared for or don’t desire children, SPL encourages the use of contraception. When used correctly and consistently, contraception decreases rates of unintended pregnancy and therefore rates of abortion.
Abortion restrictions are associated with increased contraception use.
Some people argue that if pro-lifers truly want to reduce abortions, we should focus on increased contraception use instead of legal restrictions on abortion. However, those two approaches are linked: research has found when abortion is more restricted people are more likely to use contraception, including highly effective contraception. Some examples:
- ”A state’s antiabortion attitudes, which likely contribute to the enactment of restrictive abortion laws, are a major factor in inducing greater use of highly effective contraceptive methods.” Restrictive abortion laws, antiabortion attitudes, and women’s contraceptive use. Social Science Research, Vol 41, Issue 1, January 2012
- “Fewer abortion providers increase the likelihood of women using the pill.” Utilization of oral contraception: The impact of direct and indirect restrictions on access to abortion. Social Science Journal, Vol 51, Issue 1, March 2014.
- “Our findings reveal that restrictions on abortion funding have a significant and positive impact on a woman’s decision to use the pill.” The Role of Restrictive Abortion Legislation in Explaining Variation in Oral Contraceptive Use. Clinics in Mother and Child Health, 2015, 12:4.
- “Women in states characterized by high abortion hostility (i.e., states with four or more types of restrictive policies in place) were more likely to use highly effective methods than were women in states with less hostility.” State Abortion Context and U.S. Women’s Contraceptive Choices, 1995-2010. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, Vol 47, Issue 2, June 2015
SPL advocates for both increased contraceptive use and decreased access to abortion.
Most pro-lifers consider contraception morally acceptable and use contraception themselves.
Since 2012, Gallup has found that around 90% of Americans say birth control is morally acceptable. Since 1996, Gallup has found that Americans are split on whether they consider themselves “pro-life” or “pro-choice.” These findings combined suggest that the strong majority of self-identified pro-life people consider birth control morally acceptable.
The CDC estimates approximately 2/3 of women currently use contraception, and National Health Statistics reports suggest over 90% have ever used at least one form of contraception. Given the proportion of Americans who identify as pro-life, and given views on abortion don’t correlate to gender, these findings combined suggest the strong majority of self-identified pro-life women have used contraception themselves.
Some pro-lifers are concerned that some forms of contraception are abortifacient.
Most people who identify as “pro-life” consider contraception morally acceptable, but there are shades of gray here. SPL recognizes that some pro-lifers have major reservations about contraception, especially if they believe a particular form of contraception is abortifacient (causes the death of a zygote by preventing implantation in the uterine wall).
SPL agrees that if the mechanism of action for a given form of contraception is likely to be abortifacient, we cannot support its use. We recognize the spirited and ever-evolving debate about whether and which forms of contraception are likely to prevent implantation. We believe the preponderance of evidence suggests oral contraceptives such as the pill and Plan B (the morning after pill) are unlikely to do so, and we also believe IUDs can be used in a way that is also unlikely to do so. However we understand that there is conflicting information and that truth-seeking people can land on either side of this debate, or remain uncertain.