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    Letters | Roe v. Wade: 40 years later

    Greater access to birth control may not stem rise in unwanted pregnancies

    Ronald Merullo’s Jan. 22 op-ed “Beyond pro-life and pro-choice” suggests that those on both sides of the issue should agree to increase the availability of contraception. He postulates that this will reduce the number of abortions. Unfortunately, empirical evidence shows that greater availability of contraception may not reduce the number of abortions.

    In countries across the world, greater availability of contraceptives has paralleled increases in the number of abortions. Easier access to contraception appears to increase the population of sexually active people and the frequency of their sexual encounters.

    In “Unmarried Couples with Children,” Kathryn Edin of Harvard and Paula England of Stanford studied low-income couples. The women surveyed were asked whether they had been in a situation where they wanted birth control but could not afford or find it. All said no.


    The evidence presented by Edin and England indicates that greater access to contraceptives will do little to prevent unwanted pregnancies among low-income women. Middle- and upper-income women already have access, so their abortion rates would not change. Merullo has made a well-meaning suggestion that does not stand up.

    Anne Fox


    Massachusetts Citizens

    for Life