Study Nails Why Poor Women Need Planned Parenthood

upset woman

In shocking news, a new study reveals that when Planned Parenthood funding is cut, lower-income women don't just magically and easily find health care elsewhere. Stunning, I know! Instead, the study reveals, when Planned Parenthood funding is cut, women who depend on it use less birth control and -- you guessed it -- have more pregnancies.

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The report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked specifically at what happened in Texas after dramatic cuts in the state to Planned Parenthood took effect. Without getting too far into the nitty-gritty details: Back in 2013, Texas lawmakers finally found a way to legally enact their goal of gutting Planned Parenthood in their state -- legislators created a new, state-funded Women's Health Program, which could then legally cut off support to the state's PP clinics.

In effect, Texas lawmakers cut family-planning grants by 66 percent across the state, redirecting that money to their supposedly more comprehensive clinics while closing 82 family-planning clinics, about one-third of which were affiliated with Planned Parenthood.

What could possibly go wrong?

Exactly what you'd expect, that's what. Researchers looked at pharmacy and medical claims from 2011 to 2014, comparing Medicaid claims in the 23 counties with Planned Parenthood clinics to claims in the rest of the state. GUESS WHAT, EVERYONE? In the counties without Planned Parenthood, there was a major decline in use of the two long-acting methods of birth control considered by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to be most reliable: IUD use and hormonal injections decreased by 35 percent and 31 percent, respectively.

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And, you betcha, in those same counties without access to Planned Parenthood, the relative increase in births (compared to other counties' pregnancy rates) was a whopping 27 percent.

None of this should come as any surprise to people who've been fighting to keep Planned Parenthood -- and the vital services it provides -- open and accessible to the women who need it most, all across the country. And make no mistake about it -- the women we're talking about here are, for the most part, low-income women who do not have an alternative place to turn for health care.  

And that's not just birth control! Access to birth control is one of the most important rights for a woman to have -- how else can we have any control over our bodies, lives, families, destinies? -- but don't forget the other services that Planned Parenthood provides, including life-saving STD testing, cancer screening, and education.

How can it possibly do any good for our country to deny these services to women?

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Hopefully, with this study and more that are sure to come, at least politicians advocating for more and more closures will not be able to lie and say that women can just go somewhere else for their care. They will have to admit that the real reason they're making their cowardly calls to end Planned Parenthood is that they're beholden to the far right-wing, conservative Christian movement hell-bent on not only criminalizing abortion once again, but also on keeping women firmly in their place by denying access to birth control.

You can donate to Planned Parenthood here, and learn how to take action to defend Planned Parenthood here.

 

Image via iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

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