California has a COVID-19 baby bust – fr

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California has a COVID-19 baby bust – fr


California is on the verge of ditching its mask tenure for a summer of vaccine-fueled lust – but when it comes to protection, Angelenos like Jahkara Smith won’t rely solely on antibodies.
“A lot of my friends have had IUDs recently,” said the 24-year-old Air Force veteran, a YouTube icon turned TV star. “Even if you lose your health care, it is already there. They won’t come and take it away.

The humble IUD, short for intrauterine device, is just one of many reasons California is expected to see nearly 50,000 fewer births in 2021, the nadir of a nationwide COVID- ‘baby bust’ 19 that sparked political backlash and left young families and would. -be parents drowned in demographic quicksand. While Californians delay pregnancy in many other ways – including non-prescription pills, self-injecting hormones, and higher rates of abstinence and abortion – experts say the tiny T-shaped device has helped. an unprecedented number to ghost the stork in recent months.

“Because I have my IUD, I have time to plan,” Smith said. “A lot of my friends talk about wanting babies – I want babies – but when you think of the tools you are given versus the tools you need, it’s really dark.

Economists, Demographers and Reproductive Health Experts Agree: COVID-19 Crisis Capped a Decade in which Basic Costs Far Outpaced Salaries, Along with Affordable Care Law actually made birth control free for most Americans. This is especially true in California, where the fair market rent is equivalent to that of a Tesla, preschool costs the same as UC Berkeley and an IUD costs on average $ 0 with both public and private insurance.

“People imagine a situation of ‘children of men’, when in reality the pandemic has scared people,” said Ponta Abadi, an expert in reproductive health, referring to the 2006 doomsday thriller in which a pandemic leaves. sterile humanity. “It cost a lot of people the loss of their jobs and impacted their desire to have children.”

Historical data backs this up, said Melissa Kearney, professor of economics at the University of Maryland. The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 led to a large baby bust despite the fact that contraception was both rudimentary and almost completely illegal at the time. During the Great Recession, the birth rate fell by about 1% for every percentage of unemployment increases.

New survey data from the Guttmacher Institute, a think tank that advocates for reproductive rights, suggests that this time around, the effect may be even greater. More than a third of those polled said they plan to either postpone having children or have fewer children due to the pandemic, which has been devastating for women of childbearing age despite being is much more deadly for older men. About half of the 5 million women who were laid off last spring had young children, and another million mothers were forced out by the pressure of distant school in the fall and winter. Others have delayed or ended pregnancies when COVID-19 could be more serious and deadly in pregnant women.

The impact was seismic: Local abortion providers were already seeing a spike in demand as early as April 2020, and clinicians across the country said they had since helped frontline healthcare workers, parents newly unemployed and working mothers turned teachers to end pregnancies that in any other year would have ended in the delivery room.

“When things switched to virtual schools, we had to completely revise our schedule,” said Dr. Diane Horvath, an abortion provider in Maryland. ” [Many] people told us that if we hadn’t been in the pandemic, they would have continued the pregnancy.

But abortion remains at near historic levels, and there is little evidence that it was more important in California than in other states. Golden State millennials are also not significantly different in terms of education level or family structures from their peers in other populous states where the decline has been more modest. Instead, experts say, a sharper spike in pandemic unemployment here put strong downward pressure on parents and expectant parents who were already subjected to stagnant wages, rising rents and dying. other economic strains that have been pushing birth rates down for years.

These pressures are particularly acute in Los Angeles, where rents have risen almost twice as fast as wages over the past 10 years. Sending a preschooler to home day care now costs a lot more than sending a freshman to Cal State Long Beach; infant care exceeds undergraduate tuition at UCLA, where fees have risen 30% over the past decade. Yet only 1 in 4 children whose parents can afford daycare in Los Angeles find a place. For those who depend on state grants, that number is 1 in 9.

« [Child care] isn’t just unaffordable, it’s unavailable, ”said Jessica Chang, CEO of WeeCare, the nation’s largest home child care network. “This is an important factor in explaining why people [here] have fewer children. “

Child care is now more expensive than housing in California, and housing there is more expensive than in any state except Hawaii.

“House prices took off after 2014, and it took a heavy toll on people,” said Dowell Myers, professor of town planning and demography at USC.

It is also the year that IUDs emerged as one of the most popular forms of birth control in America, after decades of languishing in the shadow of a failed early model that was taken off the market. before most modern users were conceived.

Novelist Steph Cha holds her IUD, which she got the day before her parents’ health insurance was withdrawn, at her home in Los Angeles this month.

(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

“IUDs are very popular with young people,” who have never known anything but safe and free models, said Abadi.

In 2007, the latest high watermark of US fertility, about 6% of women trying to prevent pregnancy were using long-acting, reversible contraceptives like IUDs – already a significant jump from 2000, when about 2% did. . In 2014, just three years after their release for most patients on Obamacare, that number was close to 15%. And when access was threatened following the 2016 election, insertions increased again.

This is where the long in long-acting reversible contraceptives is becoming important. A copper IUD like Smith’s can prevent pregnancy for up to 12 years, about a third of the reproductive life of an average woman. Yet just 12 years ago, before the Affordable Care Act, most doctors did not prescribe it to women who had not had children, and it could cost more to insert a child. than an abortion in the first trimester. Three of the four hormonal IUDs currently on the market – and among millions of Americans – still had not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

This makes them more attractive to many women, as access to birth control is still limited by policy and insurance coverage, even under the law.

“I received an IUD the day before my 26th birthday, while I was still covered by my parents’ insurance,” said novelist Steph Cha, who has relied on her for seven years. “When I took off my IUD, I asked the doctor if I could take it home. I have it in my wallet – it’s a little talisman.

Like Smith, Cha said the device allowed her and her husband to establish themselves professionally before starting a family.

“We always wanted kids, we just postponed that,” she said while feeding the couple’s 13-month-old son Leo at their Mid-City home one recent morning. “It seemed like the right time to me.”

Steph Cha feeds his 13 month old son Leo as the family dog ​​watches.

(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Ironically, Cha gave birth to Leo just weeks after the stay-at-home order began in California in April 2020. She was among the first Angelenos to undergo face mask labor, amid new restrictions. strict on who can attend the birth. At the time, mothers who tested positive for the coronavirus in hospital were forcibly separated from their newborns, and the rare inflammatory syndrome that affects children had just been identified.

It is now clear how terrifying these conditions were for California families. In December, when babies conceived between mid-March and early April are expected to be born, the state saw a 10% drop in deliveries, compared to the 2% year-over-year drop that had been typical for about the last decade. In January, when most babies conceived in April and early May would be born, births fell 23%.

“There was so much fear and confusion – ‘What if I get pregnant, what effect does the infection have on the pregnancy?’” Said Dr Aparna Sridhar, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the ‘UCLA. “When the pandemic was really at its peak, we also offered post-placental IUDs to pregnant women,” where the device is inserted by hand within minutes of a baby’s birth. “We were trying to keep them from coming in.”

Still, in many ways, the pandemic has been a perfect time for Cha as a new mother.

“Having both parents working at home for a year, I feel like we oddly benefited from it,” she explained as Leo strolled around Montessori-style wooden toys. “If you’re the type of person who has… resources, now’s probably a great time to do it. While if you don’t know what your job situation is like or how much you are going to have to spend on health care next year, it is a terrible time to get pregnant.

For reproductive health workers, the ability of individuals to have children when they want and not to have them when they don’t is the ultimate goal. But tens of thousands more people who decide not to get pregnant both worry economists and demographers, who say it could put enormous pressure on the economy in the years to come.

Some believe the U.S. Family Plan announced in April and the Universal Kindergarten Transition Program put forward this month by Gov. Gavin Newsom will help bring pregnancy back to life. But others fear that this may not be enough to offset sharp declines in immigration – the state’s main source of population growth for years – or the continued economic pressures that make childbearing untenable for so many young people.

“I wish we had broader discussions about what is causing people’s anxiety, outside of the pandemic,” Abadi said. “People maybe don’t want to have kids right now because it sucks.”

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