In 2013, white male Texas lawmakers decided to ban Planned Parenthood from participating in Medicaid, falsely assuring the public that low income patients would be able to obtain family planning services elsewhere from new and existing programs. Dick move, Texas.
This shows a stunning lack of awareness of what actually happens when women do not have access to birth control. (Spoiler: women get pregnant.) But in case you are wondering, the results are in. The New England Journal of medicine just published a study called the “Effect of Removal of Planned Parenthood from the Texas Women’s Health Program.”
Despite a nationwide trend towards use of long acting methods of birth control, researchers found a significant decrease in the number of women who used the IUD and the implant as well as those that used the 4 times a year shot, Depo Provera in Texas Counties that used to be served by federally funded Planned Parenthoods. These are the most effective non-permanent types of birth control we have, so it should surprise no one that the limitation of access to these methods would cause an increase in birth rate.
The researchers note:
The introduction of additional barriers to access to LARC [long acting] methods by the exclusion of skilled, specialized family-planning providers was associated with a shift toward methods that have lower rates of efficacy and continuation and, in the case of women who used injectable contraceptives in the fourth quarter of 2012, an increase in the rate of childbirth covered by Medicaid.
Women who had been covered by Medicaid visited their Planned Parenthoods to receive an injection of Depo Provera every 3 months free of charge. After the ban, however, those same patients needed to come up with $60 or more per shot. The number of women in counties served by Planned Parenthood who returned for additional shots decreased from 56.9% to only 37.7%. Just 18 months later, there is already an increase in the number of Medicaid covered childbirths. Surely that’s the tip of the iceberg.
Women who want to control their fertility are the future for fighting poverty. I can think of nothing more important to the health and prosperity of a family or of a woman than making a conscious decision to limit the number of babies that they bring into the world. We have the technology. We have the resources. You don’t need an economics degree to realize it is cheaper to prevent pregnancy than to raise a child.
So what possible excuse do we have for creating obstacles to reproductive health care? It’s immoral and inexcusable. Just how much is the current backlash against Planned Parenthood going to cost us? Do we as a society find it acceptable that the religious norms made up by old white men to control women cause poor women, and especially poor women of color, to suffer the most? Are you angry? I sure am. If you can, join me in making a small donation to Planned Parenthood today. It matters.