New study of contraceptive
By Ellie Lee
Last week BPAS released
the results of its study looking at contraceptive use. The
study was commissioned by the Department of Health, and
involved a survey of 2140 women who presented themselves
at BPAS clinics in June this year. It was found that:
The report on the research
from BPAS cited factors that can render contraceptives less
than 100 per cent effective, such as forgetting to take the
Pill, or failing to realise that its effects can be undermined
by antibiotics or illness. Condoms can tear, or, even if their
was use was intended, be forgotten.
- 55 per cent of women
requesting an abortion were married or in ongoing relationships.
- 86 per cent said they
usually used a method of contraception even if they had
not when they became pregnant.
- Almost 60 per cent of
women requesting abortion claim to have been using a method
of contraception at the time they became pregnant.
- 38 per cent said they
had been using a condom at the time they became pregnant.
- 17 per cent had relied
on the contraceptive pill.
- 41 per cent said they
had used no method of contraception.
- 45 per cent of those
17 an under said they had not been using contraception
when they became pregnant.
- 45 per cent of those
aged 30-34 also said they had not been using contraception.
The conclusion drawn by BPAS was that abortion services are
essential if women are to be able to plan their families.
Ann Furedi, director of communications for BPAS was reported
as saying: 'It is hugely important to reduce the number of
unwanted pregnancies but we have to accept that abortion is
a fact of life for many women.' She also said 'Even someone
who has access to contraception and who knows about it may
not always be able to use it as well as they would like to'.
She added ' A multitude of things can go wrong. Women can
forget to take the Pill, condoms can slip off, break, not
be put on effectively or not even taken out of the packet.'
Unsurprisingly, anti-choice groups responded negatively to
the findings. Angela Corless, of Life, said BPAS was '..arguing
for abortion to be used as another form of contraception.
This is not a solution to the problem which devastates millions
of women's lives.' Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society
for the Protection of Unborn Children said it was impossible
to de-stigmatise abortion because it involved the killing
of an unborn child. He said: 'Choosing abortion is nearly
always described by the women who do so as something which
they feel is not what they want. Very often it is chosen as
a last resort because the women is under enormous pressure,
whether that be social, financial or personal.' Mr Tully said
that instead of promoting abortion, women should be given
help and advice to enable them to feel confident about motherhood.
He also called for education programmes that emphasised the
benefits of chastity among the young, rather than the contraceptive
choices open to teenagers.
Most of us understand however that, be they teenagers or in
their 20s and 30s, women are not going to stop having and
enjoying sex. The results of this research show that if we
accept this is the case, better funding for abortion services
is needed. The message must be that contraceptive misuse or
nonuse is common, that unplanned pregnancy can result, and
that abortion should therefore be easily available, and free,
for all women who want it.
The Daily Telegraph, 13/10/99.
The Independent, 13/10/99.
BBC News On-line, 13/10/99.