May 2020: Power Updates Edition
There are plenty of articles, publications, and stories published every month. In an effort to help you distinguish fact from fiction, save time in your already busy day, and share news you may not have otherwise seen, here are nine stories from the last month we thought you might find interesting:
Though the rate of teen births has fallen in the last 25 years, there are still compelling public health, economic, and human rights reasons to continue efforts to reduce the rate even further. This paper scrutinizes barriers faced by teens to accessing and using birth control to avoid unplanned pregnancy. It also makes several evidence-based suggestions on how to address these factors using examples from other countries which have made progress in recent years.
This New England Journal of Medicine article calls for state governors and other politicians to lift abortion restrictions recently placed due to COVID-19. They argue that abortion should not be considered an elective procedure, terming it a “historical misclassification.” The authors also call for “all medical professionals to stand in solidarity with ACOG [American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists] and the AMA [American Medical Association], with the women and couples who need the option of pregnancy termination, and with their colleagues who serve these patients.”
This commentary argues that abortion and its associated health risks are time sensitive and therefore must be considered an essential medical service during COVID-19. Previously collected evidence shows that when access to abortion is restricted or unavailable a considerable number of people will turn to other, often unsafe, means of ending an unplanned pregnancy. The authors write, “Permitting women to undertake safe self-managed abortion with telemedicine counselling, is not simply about harm reduction; it is a human rights imperative…”
Pregnancy and Birth
This paper used existing research to compare sexual activity, birth control use, and adolescent pregnancy in the United States and Great Britain to attempt to determine ways to ensure the continued decline of teen pregnancy rates in the US. The authors found at least four ways to achieve this goal; increase teen knowledge about all methods of birth control, improve access to high-quality contraceptive methods, strengthen social norms about the significance of pregnancy and reasons to avoid teen pregnancy, and inform each of these three ideas with high-quality research.
Sexual and Reproductive Health
Written by five OBGYNs, this call to action asks other OBGYNs to stand with their patients and advocate for their right to access “the full spectrum” of sexual and reproductive health services. They also suggest supporting local, state, and national policies that aim to expand care, such as expanding Medicaid pregnancy and postpartum coverage.
This study evaluated the effectiveness of Families Talking Together, a three-pronged intervention aimed at reducing risky sexual behavior in adolescents. Findings show positive intervention effects for delaying first sexual experience and reducing risky behavior. One year after the intervention took place, only 5.2% of adolescents in the experimental group reported having had sexual intercourse, while 18% of those in the control groups had done so.
Prior to COVID-19 there were already many places and companies offering alternative, mostly telehealth-based, solutions for contraceptive and STI services. This paper looks at those options in the context of the current pandemic and each option’s opportunities and limitations in terms of availability and cost.
In the policy review, the author writes that “new research from the Guttmacher Institute demonstrates
that the expanded global gag rule has already had a detrimental impact on clinical providers, community health workers and critical public health partners around the world.” The article recommends that Congress permanently repeal the global gag rule and actively support access to the full range of reproductive health services.
Read the article for more detail, the 10 suggestions are:
- Ensure that reproductive health care is included within essential health care.
- Ensure that abortion care is accessible and timely by repealing burdensome restrictions.
- Protect individuals’ autonomy and choices in abortion care, including self-managed abortion.
- Allow pharmacists to provide contraceptive services.
- Increase support for publicly funded clinics.
- Respond to the needs of pregnant and parenting individuals and continue efforts to reduce maternal mortality.
- Support sex education in remote learning programs.
- Expand public and private insurance coverage of reproductive health services.
- Broaden access to sexual and reproductive health care through telehealth.
- Protect patients from religious and moral refusals of care.