Lower birth rate among Latinas demonstrates importance of expanded access to birth control, health care

A new study from the Pew Hispanic Center shows that the Latina birth rate continues to drop. The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) today issued the following statement on the study:

“This study affirms the importance of empowering Latinas to plan the timing and size of their families. We know that when a woman has access to contraception and prenatal care, she and her family are healthier.

“Poverty, lack of insurance, and immigration status often block Latinas from accessing contraception, and we know there’s still much work to be done in breaking down systemic barriers that keep Latinas from reproductive care. Young Latinas, for example, are the most likely group to skip taking prescription birth control because they can’t afford it, and Latinas continue to have higher rates of unintended pregnancy than their white peers, due in large part to lack of access to health care and comprehensive sex education.

“NLIRH continues to advocate for solutions that expand access to care, like recent recommendations from leading health groups that hormonal birth control (i.e. birth control pills) be available over-the-counter and that young women, including Latinas, have greater access to emergency contraception. Making birth control, including emergency contraception, more accessible over-the-counter is particularly important for immigrant Latinas, who face added barriers to care.”



Systemic barriers like poverty, language, and immigration status make accessing care more difficult for Latinas, resulting in poorer health outcomes. Latinas have higher rates of unintended pregnancy than their white peers.


Policy recommendations

NLIRH is part of the Oral Contraceptives Over-the-Counter Working Group, a broad coalition of reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations, researchers, and clinicians who share a commitment to providing all women of reproductive age easier access to safe, effective, acceptable, and affordable contraceptives. NLIRH has long championed better access to contraception, including using media platforms and joining with 20 other leading Latino civil rights organizations to urge President Obama to protect access to birth control without expensive co-pays, pushing governors to accept Medicaid expansions and expansions to birth control access, and advocating for wider availability of emergency contraception (Plan B).

The organization also issued a detailed fact sheet about Latinas and contraception for policy makers and journalists. Important facts include:

97 percent of Latinas who have ever had sex have used contraception
1 in 3 Latino/as are currently uninsured
Young Latinas widely report that cost has prevented them from using prescription birth control

NLIRH advocates for comprehensive reproductive health care and continues to urge lawmakers to:

Lift the five-year ban that bars qualified immigrants from accessing means-tested benefits under Medicaid.
Provide continued support for community health centers, including measures ensuring timely compensation, because so many Latinas depend on centers for primary care.
Pass the Health Equity and Accountability Act.
Expand access to insurance coverage for abortion in public and private insurance.




The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health is the only national organization working on behalf of the reproductive health and justice of the 24 million Latinas, their families and communities in the United States through public education, community mobilization and policy advocacy.


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