The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has released a report showing that black, Latina and low-income women are more likely to receive counseling for emergency contraception. According to this New York Times piece, “Eleven percent of white and Hispanic women and 7.9 percent of black women reported having used emergency contraceptives at least once, but Hispanic and black women were more than twice as likely to have had their health care provider discuss emergency contraceptive options during routine pap smears and pelvic exams. The survey found that 18 percent of Hispanic women, 12 percent of black women and 5.7 percent of white women were given such advice by their clinicians.” The survey also demonstrated that poorer women were more likely to receive counseling on emergency contraceptives: 13 percent of women below the poverty level and only 4.9 percent of women above the poverty line. Also, women with continuous health care coverage were half as likely to be given emergency contraception information as women who had been without health insurance at some point.
The article points out that the number of women are using emergency contraceptives in general has risen significantly since 2002. However, this rise is more pronounced for the above-mentioned populations.
Why might that be? Though the article draws few conclusions, I’m going to hazard a guess: black, Latina and poor women face a lot of barriers in accessing reproductive healthcare services. This means that their chances of having unprotected sex, or of having to use a birth control method that doesn’t work well for them are higher. They are more likely to have pregnancy scares, and to need emergency contraception.
So while I am happy to hear that access to this crucial resource has been increasing for these women, I would hope that the same is true for their access to comprehensive reproductive health care, one that might keep them out of these emergency situations.