Here we are on the 50th anniversary of FDA approval of the birth control pill, and according to a Harris Poll released last week, our attitudes about the pill – generally speaking – remain positive:
- Almost 9 in 10 Americans say the availability of the pill has been good for society – and 56% say it has been very good. Even 80% of Republicans say (though somewhat more tepidly) that access to the pill is good (either somewhat or very good).
- Approximately 9 in 10 Americans believe the pill is effective at preventing pregnancy – and 59% say it is very effective. Regardless of gender and age.
However, access to the pill does not appear to have fully abated our apprehension about pregnancy (the unplanned kind). Sixteen years ago, 90% of Americans said that unplanned pregnancies were a problem in the United States – and 60% said a “really big problem.” Today these numbers have dropped significantly to 71% and 32% respectively but unfortunately are still too high.
The going belief remains that a decline in moral standards (which were apparently declining 16 years ago and are still declining today) and a lack of education are the main causes of unplanned pregnancies. Birth control (or lack thereof) does not appear to the major roadblock to eliminating unplanned pregnancies (at least that’s the perception). Though before we feel totally at ease with the state of birth control in the U.S., 68-81% of Americans still say that lack of access, understanding, or money to obtain and/or use birth control is at least somewhat of a factor in the rate of unplanned pregnancies.
So, what’s the public policy directive then – more money to schools, to sex education, to improving our moral standards? What should your local politician do?