Since Lone Star State legislators decided to cut Planned Parenthood from public funding the organization used to provide contraception, a law that went into effect in 2013, Medicaid-paid births have increased by 27 percent, a new study published
in The New England Journal of Medicine
The researchers found that claims for IUDs and implants declined 35 percent and claims for injectable contraceptives declined 31 percent. They culled data from Medicaid claims from 2011 through 2014, two years before and two years after the exclusion to reach the findings.
University of Texas at Austin professor of sociology Dr. Joseph Potter, the study's supervisor, says the evidence points to an unmet demand for contraception in Texas.
“Simply put, dedicated women's health providers matter. Providers who are mission-driven and have the requisite experience and knowledge appear to be critical for the delivery of the most effective methods of contraception—IUDs, implants, and injectables," Potter says in a press release. "From a demographic perspective, this is important because both national studies and local studies show that these methods dramatically decrease unintended pregnancy. We also have accumulating evidence that there is unmet demand for these methods in Texas.”
Austin attorney Pete Schenkkan, a co-author of the study, predicted their work will have implications for ongoing litigation around women's healthcare programs that use public money, organizations like Planned Parenthood.
"Initiatives to exclude medically qualified providers of family planning and other women’s health services if they are affiliated in any way with abortion providers have been adopted or proposed in 17 U.S. states and both houses of the U.S. Congress," Schenkken says. "Supporters of these proposals claim that other providers can meet the needs of women served by Planned Parenthood clinics. Until now, this claim had not been empirically tested. On January 1, 2013, Texas became the first state to enforce such a law, and the study analyzes the results of this real world test.”
The study's lead author, Amanda Jean Stevenson, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, says outcomes in counties that did have Planned Parenthood affiliates had worse outcomes than those with Planned Parenthood facilities.
“The U.S. continues to have higher rates of unintended pregnancies than most rich nations, and we know that U.S. and Texas women face barriers as they try to access preventative services,” Stevenson says. “It’s a public health issue that Texas women struggle to achieve their reproductive goals.”