Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

New study finds that 40% of pregnancies worldwide are unintended

Of the 213 million pregnancies that occurred worldwide in 2012, 40%—about 85 million—were unintended, about the same proportion as in 2008, when 42% of all pregnancies globally were unintended. According to the new study, the proportion of pregnancies that are unintended varied considerably by region...more


Birth control pills should be available over the counter, but not as a substitute for contraceptive coverage

Making birth control pills available over the counter, if done right, would meaningfully improve access for some groups of women. However, such a change is no substitute for public and private insurance coverage of contraceptives—let alone justification for rolling back coverage of all contraceptive methods and related services for the millions of women who currently have it. A new Guttmacher policy analysis posted on Health Affairs Blog details why the pill should be available OTC, but not as a trade for contraceptive coverage...more


Help us defend women’s access to affordable contraception. Please donate to Guttmacher today.

Donate button Guttmacher research is helping demonstrate how out of step with reality the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision is. Your support will help us continue building the case for contraceptive coverage without cost-sharing for all women. Please make a tax-deductible gift today!


Fully informed patient choice and consent must be central to expanding access to highly effective contraceptive methods

A new analysis in The Guttmacher Policy Review argues that efforts to expand access to highly effective long-acting, reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods in the United States must be grounded in the fundamental principle that all women and couples should be able to make fully informed childbearing decisions freely and for themselves. To do so, it is critical that we ensure unfettered access without unduly steering method choice. Achieving this delicate balance is especially important given the historical context of coercive practices related to contraception that most often targeted disadvantaged groups...more

For the full issue of the Guttmacher Policy Review, click here.


20 million U.S. women were in need of publicly funded family planning services in 2012

Between 2000 and 2012, the number of U.S. women in need of publicly funded family planning services increased by 22%, or 3.5 million, to a total of 20 million women. This increased need was driven primarily by a rise in the number of poor and low-income adult women (<250% of poverty) in need of contraceptive services and supplies.

In 2012, publicly funded family planning services provided by safety-net health centers helped avert 1.5 million unintended pregnancies that would have resulted in more than 741,000 unplanned births and 510,000 abortions…more


New Guttmacher president and CEO Ann Starrs profiled in The Lancet

Ann M. Starrs, President and CEO We would like to welcome our new president and CEO, Ann Starrs, who assumed her role August 4. To learn more about her, please read this just-published profile from The Lancet...more


Most women in Cameroon who want to avoid pregnancy do not use modern contraception

A 17-year-old mother and her newborn daughter in their room in Northern Cameroon
© 2005 Rachel Hoy, Courtesy of Photoshare

Low levels of modern contraceptive use are taking a toll on women in Cameroon, their families and the country’s health care system. A new study, “Benefits of Meeting the Contraceptive Needs of Cameroonian Women,” released today in Yaoundé by the Institut de Formation et de Recherche Démographiques and the Guttmacher Institute found that in 2013, approximately 63% of sexually active Cameroonian women—2.3 million women—wanted to avoid pregnancy, but only 37% of these women were using a modern contraceptive method…more (En français)


International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health goes online only

International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health Beginning in 2015, International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health will change from a print and online journal to exclusively an online journal. With this transition, articles will be made available online as soon as they are finalized, even if other articles scheduled for the same issue are still in progress.


Forcibly displaced populations’ sexual and reproductive health needs must not be overlooked

At the end of 2013, more than 50 million people around the world had been forcibly displaced from their homes, an extraordinary number not seen since the end of the World War II. Among these people, myriad needs compete for—and deserve—action. Not least among them is ensuring their sexual and reproductive health...more


Few women use emergency contraceptive pills two decades after the method became available

A painted sign on the side of a building in the Henequenera zone of Yucatan, Mexico, advertises emergency contraception.
© 2005 Arlette Gautier, Courtesy of Photoshare

In many countries most women have never heard of or used emergency contraceptive pills. Although the method can help women avoid unplanned pregnancies, in 44 of 45 countries surveyed, fewer than 50% of women have ever heard of it and fewer than 6% have ever used it, according to a new study by Tia Palermo of Stony Brook University published in International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. In general, the more educated women were or the wealthier they were, the more likely they were to have known about or used emergency contraception...more


Good for business: Covering contraceptive care without cost-sharing is cost-neutral or even saves money

Some critics of the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage guarantee claim that it imposes a financial burden on employers or insurers. The available evidence, however, suggests strongly that coverage of contraception without patient out-of-pocket costs should not raise insurance costs and is likely cost-saving. That is because the cost of contraception is outweighed by the savings from averting unplanned pregnancies, as demonstrated by a significant body of research…more


New study documents reasons married women in developing nations who wish to avoid pregnancy do not use contraceptives

According to a new Guttmacher study, increasing women’s access to modern contraceptive methods alone will not satisfy their unmet need for contraception. The most common reasons married women give for not using a contraceptive method—despite wanting to avoid a pregnancy—have less to do with whether they can obtain contraceptives and more to do with concerns about possible health risks and side effects or their belief that they don’t have sex frequently enough to warrant using a method…more. And please see our series of infographics illustrating the findings globally and by region.


Call for papers on understudied populations

PSRH logo Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health will dedicate a special section of its December 2015 issue to exploring the sexual and reproductive health needs of understudied populations—individuals with disabilities, incarcerated persons, homeless men and women, military personnel and transgender people, to name but a few. The journal will consider original research and review articles (with a maximum length of 6,000 words), as well as commentaries (up to 3,500 words). The deadline for submission is January 31, 2015. Click here to learn more.


States continue to enact abortion restrictions, but at a lower level than in the previous three years

States enacted 21 new abortion restrictions during the first half of 2014 So far this year, 13 states have adopted 21 new restrictions designed to limit access to abortion, about half the number (41) of similar restrictions that had been enacted by this point last year. These restrictions range from requirements that abortion providers have admitting privileges at local hospitals to bans on insurance coverage to limitations on medication abortion. At the same time, and building on momentum from last year, three states moved to protect access to abortion services, while four states and the District of Columbia took steps to improve access to other reproductive health services…more


Claim that most abortion clinics are located in black or Hispanic neighborhoods is false

Antiabortion activists often claim that most abortion clinics are located in predominantly black or Hispanic neighborhoods. However, this claim is false…more


After Supreme Court ruling, focus shifts to how Obama administration and Congress will ensure contraceptive coverage for affected employees

© iStock Photo

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday decided that closely held corporations that assert a religious objection do not have to cover contraceptive services and methods in their employer-sponsored health plans as required under the Affordable Care Act. The Court’s decision hinged on its assertion that there are other “less restrictive” ways for the government to achieve contraceptive coverage for affected employees. The onus is now on the Obama administration and Congress to find a way to ensure that these women and families can continue to enjoy the protection and benefits of the current federal contraceptive coverage policy...more

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


Broadening access to LARC methods could help reduce rates of birth and abortion

PSRH logo A program that provided Title X–funded clinics in Colorado with additional financial support to facilitate patients’ access to LARC methods (IUDs and implants) and expand clinic capacity may have contributed to considerable declines in birthrates and abortion rates among low-income 15–24-year-old women, according to a new study by Sue Ricketts, of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, et al., published in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health...more


Just the numbers: The impact of U.S. international family planning assistance

Thousands of women in poor countries would die from pregnancy-related complications if funding for U.S. international family planning and reproductive health assistance were significantly cut. Our fact sheet details the many benefits of the current U.S. investment as well as the negative impact of every $10 million decrease in the program...more


Debate on ways to reduce U.S. abortion rate intensifies even as abortion rate continues to decline

A new Guttmacher policy analysis notes that, paradoxically, the sharp divide over the “means” to make abortion rare has only grown more contentious even as the U.S. abortion rate in 2011 reached its lowest level since 1973. The debate centers on whether the United States should strive to reduce abortion at all costs, or focus instead on reducing the need for it…more


U.S. teen pregnancy rates reach historic lows

Teen pregnancy, birth and abortion rates have declined dramatically in the United States, reaching historic lows in 2010. The teen pregnancy rate dropped to 57.4 pregnancies per 1,000 teens, a 51% decline from the 1990 peak and a 15% decline in just two years. In the most recent period, pregnancy rates declined in every state, and among all racial and ethnic groups…more

U.S. teen pregnancy, birth and abortion rates have reach historic lows (2010 chart)


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. Our 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

Also, our 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, including data on women in need of publicly funded contraceptive services and number of clients served by Title X-supported clinics…more

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.