War Against Planned Parenthood Hurts Women


It’s 2016, yet in the United States today, reproductive health care is being censured by State lawmakers and governors. Planned Parenthood is victim to forces that want to diminish it. The resulting fallout from reduced access to reproductive health services hurts women’s health, especially the health of poor women. A recent analysis showed that de-funding Planned Parenthood clinics was associated with a drop in number of claims for LARC methods with a corresponding increase in the number of births.

In the summer of 2015, fraudulent videos meant to destroy and indict Planned Parenthood suggested that the organization illegally sold fetal tissue. Although soon discredited, the videos nonetheless spurred federal and state lawmakers to strangle funding for the often-beleaguered clinics that have so well served women. Since July, 23 states passed bills to drastically cut federal funding; 11 have so far done so.[1] What might be the consequence of curtailing services for millions of women, especially for indigent women who have few if any other options?

A recent study in Texas may offer insight on how negatively impactful those consequences may be. In 2013, Texas excluded all Planned Parenthood affiliates from its statewide fee-for-service family planning program. Claims data between 2011 and 2013 showed 35.5% fewer claims were made in the state for LARC methods.[2] The percentage of women returning on time for subsequent injectable contraception dropped from 56.9% to 37.7%. In counties affected by the funding cuts to Planned Parenthood affiliates, the rate of Medicaid-covered childbirth increased 27.1% within 18 months. These significant adverse changes occurred above and beyond any changes that resulted earlier from an 2011 action by Texas to cut Title V and Title XX funding, resulting in the closing of 82 family-planning clinics; one-third were Planned Parenthood affiliates.

“These findings have implications regarding the likely consequences of proposals to exclude Planned Parenthood affiliates from public funding in other states or at the national level,” write the study authors, who are with the University of Texas and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

In an earlier analysis, The Guttmacher Institute noted that Planned Parenthood was the sole safety-net providers in some areas, and in those areas with other providers, Planned Parenthood served far more contraceptive clients.[3]

It is more than contraceptive care that could be adversely affected, too. In Indiana, Planned Parenthood was Scott County’s only HIV testing center. After its 2013 closure, an HIV outbreak quickly followed.1 Further limiting reproductive health services, Indiana just signed a bill that bans abortions for fetal abnormalities and makes doctors performing abortions in those cases legally liable.1

 Deborah Kowal, MA, PA. Executive editorof Contraceptive Technology

[1] The state assault on women’s health. Op-Ed. New York Times, March 28, 2016.

[2] Stevenson AJ, Flores-Vazuez IM, Allgeyer RL, Schenkkan P, Potter JE. Effect of removal of Planned Parenthood from the Texas Women’s Health Program. N Engl J Med 2016;374:853-60

[3] Frost JJ, Hasstedt K. Quantifying Planned Parenthood’s crtical role in meeting th need for publicly supported contraceptive care. News in context. Guttmacher Institute website, Sept. 8, 2015.