September 23, 2009 / 8:17 PM / 10 years ago

Recession giving U.S. women pause about motherhood

A pregnant woman reading her ballot paper is seen through a curtain in a booth at a polling station organized at a maternity hospital in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, October 31, 2004. REUTERS/Mykhailo Markiv.

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Worries about the economy have led many American women to think twice about having a baby, a survey released on Wednesday found, with nearly half of those surveyed saying they want to delay pregnancy or limit the number of children they have.

At the same time, many women said they were skimping on birth control, switching to a cheaper method or even going without as a way of saving money, according to the survey by researchers at the not-for-profit Alan Guttmacher Institute, which studies sexual and reproductive health.

“The recession has put many women — including middle-class women who are having trouble making ends meet — in an untenable situation,” Dr. Sharon Camp, Guttmacher’s president and chief executive, said in a statement.

“They want to avoid unintended pregnancy more than ever, but at the same time are having difficulty affording the out-of-pocket costs of prescription contraception,” she said.

The nationally representative sample of nearly 1,000 low and middle-income sexually active women done in July and August found as many as one in four women had put off a visit to the gynecologist in the past year to save money.

And the same number said they were having a harder time paying for birth control than in the past.

Camp said that while delaying a prescription refill or skipping pills may save women money in the short term, it increases the risk of an unintended pregnancy, and possibly an unplanned birth or abortion later on.

Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; editing by Maggie Fox and Todd Eastham

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