Here’s What Happens When Planned Parenthood Is Defunded

A new study from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, or TxPEP, concludes that defunding Planned Parenthood leads to a decreased access to effective forms of birth control and higher birthrates.

Anti-choice legislators on the federal and state level continue to ride a high from constant efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. TxPEP’s research shows that their partisan attacks have devastatingly grave effects on women’s health. Beyond merely limiting women’s constitutional right to abortion, defunding Planned Parenthood also prevents women from accessing critical family planning services to prevent unintended pregnancies.

University of Texas researchers involved in the multi-year effort are working to analyze the effects of restrictive reproductive health legislation in the state, particularly around issues of contraception, abortion, economic impact, and family planning clinics. Texas was the first state to bar Planned Parenthood affiliates from providing health care services with taxpayer money. In 2013, GOP legislators slashed both federal and state funds from the organization, forcing many women to rely on Medicaid to cover contraceptive costs.

According to TxPEP’s findings, this led to a dramatic 27 percent spike in births—suggesting that low-income Texan women now have greater difficulty accessing necessary contraceptive services. Researchers found that about 2,500 women lost access to two of the most effective contraceptives—IUDs and injected contraception—after Texas defunded Planned Parenthood. Following the study’s release, Amanda Jean Stevenson, lead author, said, “We examined differences between counties that had and did not have a Planned Parenthood affiliate, finding worse outcomes in places impacted by the exclusion; whereas places unaffected by the exclusion continued as they had before.”

Restricting access to birth control has unnerving consequences for our nation’s neediest women and families. More than half of Planned Parenthood clinics are located in rural or medically underserved areas. What’s more, an overwhelming majority of those who visit Planned Parenthood live with incomes of 150% of the federal poverty levels or less.When lawmakers prevent Planned Parenthood from serving women through a state’s Medicaid family-planning program, low-income women are unable to afford some of the most highly effective forms of contraception. As evidenced in Texas, the subsequent consequence is an uptick in birthrates.

“This new research show the devastating consequences for women when politicians block access to care at Planned Parenthood. Texas is fast becoming a cautionary tale for politicians in Ohio, Utah, and other states targeting care at Planned Parenthood,” said Cecile Richards, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood.

A surge in defunding efforts transpired in wake of last year’s smear campaign against the organization by anti-abortion activists. Given Republicans’ track record, there should be little doubt that partisan attacks on women access to quality, affordable health care will continue well into this year’s presidential election. That is a detriment to us all, as TxPep’s study proves—once and for all—that government funding for contraceptives helps reduce unplanned pregnancies.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

Washington, D.C.

Lauren Kokum researches the intersection of religion and ethics with public policy at a think tank in Washington, D.C. She favors museums, slam poetry, and musings on race, gender, and human rights. | All opinions expressed here are her own.

Lauren Kokum favors museums, slam poetry, and musings on race, gender, religion, and human rights.

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