A Gallup survey commissioned by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently reported that the rough economy is impacting women’s reproductive health in considerable ways. Decisions about when to become pregnant, how many children to have, what type of contraception method to use, and whether or not to attend their yearly well-woman exams are being influenced by the present dismal economy. When it came to their reproductive health, survey statistics included:
- One in seven (14%) women reporting they had postponed their annual ob-gyn checkup;
- 14% of all women ages 18-44 reporting that the economy has influenced their plans to increase family size; and
- 9% (nearly 1 in 10) of married women indicating that the bad economy was a factor in their decision to postpone a planned pregnancy.
Also interesting to note is that compared to one year ago, more women are both concerned about having an unintended pregnancy and more conscientious about using birth control to avoid that from happening. Though women reported that having a reliable form of contraception was extremely important to them (9 on a scale of 1 to 10), one must consider whether women will continue to be able to afford birth control, especially when public health clinics and family planning programs nationwide are undergoing funding cuts. The Gallup survey found that ten percent of women were worried about their ability to keep paying for contraception, some had switched their birth control method, and some had quit using it all together.
It is evident that when worried about their financial situation, women are more likely to forgo routine health care and cut back or stop taking their prescribed medications. As it is, Latinas disproportionately lack health insurance and access important services like breast/cervical cancer screenings and early prenatal care in lower numbers. This, compounded with the cultural notion that Latinas put familia first makes the situation even more daunting. Necesitamos seguir la lucha por el aceso a salud reproductiva para todas las mujeres.