Nearly 10,000 girls and women in the St. Louis area participated in the Contraceptive CHOICE Project, with more than 1,400 of the girls being between the ages of 14 and 19.
Program participants were given free access to a variety of contraceptives after being educated on the different options that were available to them for the study.
That was all it took to make a major difference in the teenage pregnancy rates in the area.
From 2008 to 2013, study participants averaged a much lower teenage pregnancy rate than girls of the same age across the nation.
Per every 1,000 teens, the CHOICE study participants averaged only 34 pregnancies.
These statistics were compared to the 2008 data of teen pregnancies in the U.S.: Per every 1,000 sexually experienced teens in the U.S., more than 150 got pregnant.
For months the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been pushing for a way to win what it has deemed the Winnable Battle against teen pregnancy, birth and abortion rates.
In the year 2015, the CDC believes it can knock the teenage birth rate down to at least 30.3 per 1,000 teens. The CHOICE program has revealed just how they can achieve that goal.
Out of the CHOICE study participants, only 19.4 per 1,000 teens gave birth in a year. That’s more than 30 percent lower than the CDC’s 2015 Winnable Battle goal.
On a national level, more than 90 teens per every 1,000 gave birth in one year.
Even more important, especially in the Black community, is the impact the free contraception had on abortion rates.
Black communities have long been a prime location of abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood, who have placed a disproportionately high number of their clinics in predominantly Black neighborhoods.
According to the CDC, Black women actually account for a quarter of all abortions since Roe v. Wade back in 1973.
Knocking down the barriers to contraception, especially on a financial level, could be all it takes to turn those statistics around.
The national average of teen abortion rates was 41.5 per every 1,000, the study claimed.
As for CHOICE participants, this number was slashed to less than 10 teens per every 1,000.
Authors of the study pointed out that the difference between pregnancy, birth and abortion rates for U.S. teens and teens in the program were even greater for Black participants than any other demographic.
For Black participants alone, pregnancy rates went from 99.5 to 31.8 per 1000 teens, while abortion rates dropped from 34.5 per 1000 teens to less than 20.
The study certainly helps to dispel racially charged myths that young Black women are simply irresponsible or promiscuous and that’s what leads to disproportionate pregnancy and abortion rates.
The study references statistics that suggest Black and Hispanic women are more likely to get pregnant before they’re 21 when compared to young women of other races.
With women of color having higher barriers to contraceptive, especially financial, those statistics come as no surprise.