State legislation excluding Planned Parenthood-affiliated clinics from access to Medicaid funding in Texas has resulted in a decrease in the level of birth control care received by low-income women attending these centers. This, in turn, has caused an increase in the number of babies born to poorer women who had sought these services.
The new statistics, which appear in the New England Journal of Medicine, were compiled by researchers from the University of Texas at Austin in order to gauge the effects of a spate of measures introduced between late 2011 and early 2013 affecting family planning facilities across the state. Among these were the closure of 82 family planning clinics, the redistribution of state funding away from family planning centers, and the exclusion of Planned Parenthood affiliates from the Texas Women’s Health Program.
Planned Parenthood is the largest reproductive healthcare provider in the U.S., although it is not supported by certain state governments due to the fact that it provides abortions, which is a major reason behind the Texan legislation against the not-for-profit organization.
Of the 254 counties in Texas, 23 have clinics affiliated with Planned Parenthood. After reviewing all pharmacy and medical claims made to family-planning insurance programs in Texas between January 2011 and December 31, 2014, the study authors noted a significant drop in the number of women requesting certain forms of birth control in these 23 counties immediately after the measures were introduced.
For instance, claims made for long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), such as intrauterine devices and contraceptive implants, dropped by 35.5 percent in the three months after the exclusion of Planned Parenthood affiliates. These figures relate specifically to women living at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level.
Furthermore, the number of low-income women seeking injectable contraceptives in the 23 counties serviced by Planned Parenthood clinics dropped by 31.1 percent across the same period. In order to be effective, these injections must be received every three months, although figures reveal that the proportion of women returning for subsequent shots on time dropped from 56.9 percent to 37.7 percent.
This translated to an increase in the number of babies born to low-income women who had sought family planning services in the countries with Planned Parenthood affiliates. The percentage of these women who underwent childbirth covered by Medicaid in the 18 months following a contraceptive injection rose from 7 percent to 8.4 percent once the new legislation came into effect.
None of these effects were seen in counties serviced by state-funded birth control centers as opposed to family planning affiliates. As such, the study authors conclude that defunding Planned Parenthood affiliates has a detrimental effect on the level of care received by poorer women seeking birth control services in regions where these clinics exist.