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Women Are Not Equal to Boys in Their Access to Birth Control, Survey Finds

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Do girls have better access to birth control than boys do? Or does birth control occur later, meaning that girls have shorter periods?

Those are two of the takeaways from a new survey conducted by Target and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. So, how do the findings fit together?

“This data really speaks to things that are not in doubt, which is that women who are young, have lower incomes, are taking care of a home, and are at college are more likely to use birth control,” said Elizabeth Gershoff, a researcher at the Guttmacher Institute, an organization that tracks reproductive health policies, including contraception and the abortion debate.

Ms. Gershoff said that late-childbearing mothers are more likely to use birth control because they are at a more vulnerable state financially and may be planning to start a family. In her research, Ms. Gershoff has observed that having a child after the age of 24 is the most important for a women’s ability to access contraception.

Ms. Gershoff also said that, overall, access to birth control in the United States is actually very high. About 77 percent of American women between the ages of 15 and 44 have used birth control. But there are distinct differences in access depending on the state.

Across the board, early-pregnancy women are more likely to have access to contraception and more likely to use it. When women are in their 20s, early-pregnancy women are 31 percent more likely to use birth control than women in their 30s.

When women start their families early, they also tend to have more children than those who have delayed starting families. Because early-pregnancy women tend to start families with more children, they are more likely to use contraception, Ms. Gershoff said.

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