Exclusive: Majority of female small business owners say birth control key to professional success

Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy
Contributing Writer

The Trump administration moved last week to make it easier for employers to deny their workers contraception coverage. But according to new research, one group of employers feels very strongly about the need for birth control coverage: women.

New polling conducted by Small Business Majority, an organization that advocates for policy solutions that bolster the economy, shows that female small business owners not only support birth control coverage but also cite it as a critical factor in their own ability to advance their careers and start their businesses. 

Five hundred and seven female small business owners were polled, with 71 percent saying they believe that health insurance issuers should be required to include birth control coverage in their health plans. This majority opinion extended across all political, racial, religious, and age lines.

Another 69 percent of female small business owners say they are supportive of policies that ensure and expand access to birth control, again with majorities across all political affiliations — 63 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of Democrats, and 57 percent of independent small business owners all said they were in favor of expanding birth control access.

Seventy-nine percent of female business owners polled said that access to reproductive health care is basic health care and important for women’s economic well-being and stability.

But these entrepreneurs don’t just think birth control access is important in general — they say it’s key to their professional success, too.

Fifty-six percent of women polled said that the ability to access birth control and to decide if and when to have children allowed them to advance in their careers and start their own businesses, while another 56 percent believe birth control access and decisions about growing their families also affect their ability to grow a business. Sixty-four percent of female small business owners also said birth control access is an important part of their ability to make choices about their careers and futures.

Notably, 71 percent of the female business owners polled said they already had children — and 70 percent also said they are not planning on having children in the future. Eighty-one percent of these women said that they had been on some form of prescription birth control in their lifetime, and 57 percent said that having birth control to determine if and when to have children is important.

The polling also strongly indicates that access to birth control — and what it means for female small business owners’ economic potential — is a deeply bipartisan issue. Of the female small business owners polled, 41 percent identified as Republicans or Republican-leaning independents, 39 percent identified as Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents, and 11 percent identified as pure independents.

Roughly one-third of the 15.3 million total new jobs created between 2010 and 2018 will be created by women-owned small businesses, the Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute projects. In 2016, there were nearly 11.3 million women-owned businesses, generating more than $1.6 trillion each year and employing nearly 9 million people.

There are 61 million women in the U.S. in their childbearing years, 70 percent of whom are at risk of unintended pregnancy (that is, they are sexually active but do not wish to become pregnant), according to a September 2016 report by the Guttmacher Institute. More than 99 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method in their lifetimes, with 62 percent of these women currently using at least one contraceptive method.

Only 10 percent of women at risk for unintended pregnancy are not using any form of birth control.

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