A just-released study commissioned by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and conducted by researchers at Child Trends, an independent nonprofit research organization that specializes in child health and development, found that if the full range of contraception options available to women through Planned Parenthood health centers were used by all U.S. women ages 15 to 39 who were not seeking pregnancy, the unintended-pregnancy rate would be reduced by 64 percent, the unintended-birth rate would decrease by 63 percent, and the abortion rate would drop by a staggering 67 percent.
All of this, researchers found, would translate into $12 billion in public health care cost savings annually, reducing the public costs of unintended pregnancy by half.
The findings are all the more staggering on the heels of this weeks news that the Trump administration made an informal proposal to Planned Parenthood that their place as a provider of Medicaid and Title X — the federal family planning program — services could remain intact if the reproductive and sexual health care provider would stop providing abortion care. Further complicating the issue is the Affordable Care Act (ACA) replacement bill finally introduced by House Republicans last night, which would both roll back Medicaid expansion and also cut off all funding to Planned Parenthood for a year, a one-two punch to those who rely on Planned Parenthood as a safety-net provider for their reproductive health care and family planning.
Jamila Taylor, a senior fellow with the Center for American Progress (CAP) who is an expert on women’s health care policy, tells Yahoo Beauty, “If you take into account the fact that Planned Parenthood serves about 2.5 million people each year with essential health services and that many of those folks are on Medicaid or accessing services through Title X, that’s extremely problematic.”
According to Planned Parenthood, close to 60 percent of their patients participate in Medicaid or Title X.
Taylor continues, “When you consider the fact that for these same patients, Planned Parenthood often serves as the single access point for their health care, a restriction like this is only going to further disservice disadvantaged communities.”
Taylor also notes that given the fact that 70 percent of the American public believes that Roe v. Wade should be maintained and that abortion should remain safe and legal in the United States, “asking Planned Parenthood or any other provider that may be receiving federal funding to not provide this service is just placing barriers on important health care.”
She continues, “Based on the profile of what we know about the folks Planned Parenthood serves, slashing their funding from the Medicaid program in particular is going to have a harmful effect on low-income people, people of color, and LGBT young people. These are communities that disproportionately rely on essential health care through Planned Parenthood. So, when we talk about stripping their funding, this isn’t about Planned Parenthood per se, but about taking away essential health coverage to these people.
“Politically, I know everyone is honing in on Planned Parenthood, but at the end of the day, this is just going to harm the patients who need health care the most — patients who rely on Planned Parenthood,” Taylor says. “These are groups that also experience health disparities and health inequities, and any efforts to restrict their health coverage will only exacerbate their health and well-being disparities.”
Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif. tells Yahoo Beauty, “While claiming to try to improve access to health care, Republicans couldn’t resist another opportunity to attack women by doing the complete opposite. Far from helping more people make their own health care choices, this bill defunds Planned Parenthood, denying millions of women access to preventative care, cancer screenings, and affordable contraception. Although abortion care is constitutionally protected, Republicans are using their opposition to it as an excuse to deny comprehensive health care to women. But this cannot just be about ideologies when lives are at stake, and we know the dangers facing women when these safe options are taken away.”
Audrey Sandusky, director of advocacy and communications for the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, agrees.