The cross-sectional study was produced by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University and co-authors across the country.
The results may be especially notable given the Supreme Court’s recent decision.
“It’s going to have consequences in terms of increased maternal injury and death, as well as exposing newborns to harmful substances during pregnancy,” said lead author Ximena Levander, M.D., M.C.R., assistant professor (general internal medicine and geriatrics) in the OHSU School of Medicine.
Researchers examined data from the Rural Opioids Initiative, a survey taken in eight rural U.S. regions from January 2018 through March 2020. They focused on women ages 18 to 49 who reported illegal drug use in the preceding 30 days a total of 855 individuals.
Only about 37% reported using contraceptives.
By comparison, survey data from the National Survey on Family Growth indicate that 66% of the overall population of women in rural areas used contraceptives. Researchers said the new findings underscore the need for expanding access to both reproductive health care and substance use treatment in rural areas.
“There are long-term economic consequences to women having children when they don’t intend to,” Levander said. “We know that women who use illicit drugs have higher rates of unintended pregnancies, which raises concern for her health and the infant.”
The survey reached women in rural areas of Oregon, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Ohio, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.