Here’s How Cuts to Planned Parenthood are Impacting Poor Women

Aggressive funding cuts to Planned Parenthood and other family-planning clinics throughout Texas are being blamed for a spike in births and a drop in contraceptive usage among low-income women. Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin pored over administrative records to determine patterns before and after Planned Parenthood was excluded from public funding in 2013, forcing dozens of clinics to close. 

The number of babies delivered by poor women insured by Medicaid, the state-funded health care plan for low-income people and those with disabilities, jumped 27 percent between 2011 and 2014, according to the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

During the same period, poor women’s use of long-acting contraceptives including implants and IUDs slid by more than a third. Injectable contraceptive use also significantly decreased—by about 31 percent—while prescriptions for shorter-term methods such as pills, patches, and rings remained about the same, researchers found. 

The study’s lead author wrote that by comparing the differences between counties with and without Planned Parenthood affiliates, the researchers were able to determine how low-income families were affected by a series of drastic cuts to reproductive health services, including a 66 percent reduction in grants in 2011 that led to the shuttering of 82 family-planning clinics—about a third affiliated with Planned Parenthood, researchers said. 

While just a tenth of Texas counties have Planned Parenthood affiliates, those counties are home to 60 percent of the state’s women of child-bearing age who live at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level, researchers wrote. Texas is not the only state that has sought to slash public funding for family-planning services. Seventeen states have either adopted or proposed similar measures aimed at removing Planned Parenthood from federally funded family-planning programs, according to the study.  

The report comes a week after a pair of Texas-based antiabortion activists were charged with felonies related to secretly filming officials at a Planned Parenthood center. The undercover videos—which accused the health center of illegally profiting off the sale of fetal tissue—had significant consequences in Texas, spurring Republicans in October to end Planned Parenthood’s enrollment in the state Medicaid program.

“Policiticans have claimed time and again that our patients can simply go to other health care providers—and tragically, that’s not the case,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement in response to the new research. “Instead, women were left out in the cold.”


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