Study finds links between resource deprivation and reproductive autonomy

Inadequate insurance coverage and high costs of healthcare are established barriers to contraceptive access. However, we know little about the ways that broader, structural socioeconomic barriers may impact people’s ability to access their preferred contraceptive method(s)—a key dimension of reproductive autonomy.

A recent CORE publication in Contraception uses data from the statewide SHOW survey to explore connections between Wisconsinites’ socioeconomic resources, broadly defined to include housing instability and food insecurity, and their contraceptive use during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study found that, among Wisconsin women using contraception, nearly one-third were not using their preferred method. Those who lacked socioeconomic resources, including adequate food and housing, were significantly less likely to be using their preferred contraceptive method(s) than people who had their basic financial needs covered.

The authors concluded that people with low incomes and socioeconomic struggles may have greater difficulty accessing their preferred contraceptive methods due to competing demands on their time and resources, as well as systemic barriers to care.

The article, authored by Laura Swan, Hoa Vu, Jenny Higgins, Leeann Bui, Kristen Malecki, and Tiffany Green, makes the case that full-spectrum contraceptive care and reproductive autonomy must occur in concert with community resources to reduce poverty and provide social service benefits.