Recession’s Ironic Twist on Reproductive Choices

guttmacher_large_onRecession news and information floods our TV, newspapers and blogs. The loss of jobs, rising cost of living, and stimulus packages all make headlines. A quick Google search on effects of the recession will produce stories about stress, environmental emissions and now reproductive decisions have made that list. Yes, the recession has made its way into the bedroom and is affecting women’s choices about whether or not to have children.

 The Guttmacher Institute came out with the results of a survey that showed that many women are delaying pregnancy, foregoing having more children or deciding not to have any children ever.

  •  Nearly half of surveyed women (44%) report that because of the economy, they want to reduce or delay their childbearing.
  • Most of these women want to get pregnant later (31%), want fewer children (28%) or now do not want any more children (7%).
  • Sixty-four percent of women agree with the statement, “With the economy the way it is, I can’t afford to have a baby right now.”

 In a slightly ironic twist the recession, some women are finding it harder to access and maintain birth control habits. Many women are also taking a lot of extra precautions to avoid getting pregnant.

  •  Eight percent of women report that they sometimes did not use birth control in order to save money
  •  Among women using the pill, 18% report inconsistent use as a means of saving money.
  •  Twenty-three percent of surveyed women report having a harder time paying for birth control than in the past

 The most troubling news about reproductive health during the recession is the number of women that are putting off doctor visits.

  •  Nearly one out of four women report having put off a gynecological or birth control visit to save money in the past year. Women who lost their health insurance during the past year are more likely to report delaying a visit than are those who did not.

Reproductive rights have always been more than “just” a women’s issue. Economic issues play a major role in access to education and resources. The dangers that can come from cutting corners on women’s health can be seen most substantially in lower-income families. These study results show another way economics impacts reproductive choi


  1. Great summary, Andrea. I would add that people who can’t afford their birth control really need to go visit Planned Parenthood, where they can get it free or subsidized, based on income.

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