Reproductive Health And Rights In U.S. Under Attack

Above Photo: From This is an Emergency! by Meredith Stern.

Population Institute’s Report Card Lowers U.S. Grade to a “D+”; 19 States Fail.

Funding Cuts, Abortion Restrictions, and Attacks on Planned Parenthood Cited

Walker warned that, “The attacks on Planned Parenthood are potentially devastating. Planned Parenthood health centers make up only 10 percent of publicly funded safety-net providers, but they serve 36 percent of the clients seeking contraceptive services. In 103 counties with a Planned Parenthood health center, the Planned Parenthood facility serves all the women who are using safety-net clinics to access contraceptive services. The restricted access to reproductive health care would be particularly devastating for poor women and women living in remote areas.”

Walker expressed concern about efforts in Congress to eliminate funding for comprehensive sex education programs in the schools. “Political attacks on teen pregnancy prevention programs have received very little attention, but they endanger the progress we have been making in reducing teen pregnancy rates.”

Using nine criteria, the Institute’s report card ranked each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia: Thirty percent of the grade is based on measures of EFFECTIVENESS. This includes the latest available data on the teenage pregnancy rate (15%) and the rate of unintended pregnancies (15%).

Twenty percent of the grade is based upon PREVENTION. This includes mandated comprehensive sex education in the schools (15%) and access to emergency contraception (5%).

Twenty-five percent of the grade is based upon AFFORDABILITY. This includes if states are expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (15%) and Medicaid eligibility rules for family planning (10%). The final twenty-five percent of the grade is based upon clinic ACCESS. This includes abortion restrictions (10%), TRAP Laws (5%), and percent of women living in a county without an abortion provider (10%).

Based upon their scores, each state received a “core” grade (A, B, C, D or F), but some states received an additional “plus” or a “minus“ for factors not reflected in the core grade, such as pending changes or legislation.

Only seventeen states received a B- or higher. Just four states (California, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington) received an “A”. Nineteen states received a failing grade (“F”). States receiving a failing grade included Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming.

“At the state level the trend is particularly worrisome,” said Walker. “Increasingly, the reproductive health of a woman depends on the state or community where she lives. That’s wrong as a matter of both rights and health” Walker noted that 21 states have refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Walker also noted that 288 new abortion restrictions have been approved since January 2011, and that several states have cut funding for family planning services.

Sex education in the schools also varies widely. Some states require no sex education, while others fail to require any instruction about use of condoms, birth control or the prevention of HIV/AIDS. As a result, the quality of sex education can— and does—vary widely from one school district to the next. Walker said,“This report card should be awake-up call for all those worried about the status of reproductive health and rights in their state.”