There’s No Public-Health Case for Making Nuns Provide Free Birth Control

Among many journalists and commentators, there is a real misunderstanding about academic research that has been done on contraception. Many people intuitively think that greater access to contraception will automatically result in lower unintended pregnancy rates and abortions. The Guttmacher Institute, which up until recently was Planned Parenthood’s research arm, often publishes ideologically oriented research arguing for more spending on various contraceptive programs both in the United States and abroad. But a closer look at the research that has appeared in peer-reviewed economics and public-health journals tells a different story. There is a substantial body of peer-reviewed research that demonstrates that programs designed to improve access to contraceptives — through legalization, distribution, or subsidies — are either ineffective at best or counterproductive at worst.

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