Health

This Horrifying New Study Shows What Will Happen If We Defund Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood skeptics got a reality check on Wednesday, when the New England Journal of Medicine released a report that looked into the effects of cutting funding to the organization. The results weren't surprising: after looking at data from Texas, the first state to block funding to Planned Parenthood, the study found that low-income women used less birth control and had more pregnancies. The findings are significant in light of recent escalated efforts by Republicans to defund the health organization based on the argument — which this new report essentially disproves — that women could simply find healthcare services elsewhere.

What the study found

The back story: In 2011, Texas tried to ban Planned Parenthood affiliates from receiving money. The efforts weren't lawful though, since 90 percent of the funding came from the federal government. So the state got creative and soon went on to create its own state-funded Women’s Health Program from which it could legally cut off Planned Parenthood. That program went into effect in January 2013. Using pharmacy and medical claims from 2011 to 2014, the researchers compared Medicaid claims in the 23 counties with Planned Parenthood clinics to claims in the rest of the state. The study found that after the switch, there was a dramatic decline in long-acting methods of birth control: a 35 percent reduction in IUD use and and 31 percent drop in hormonal injections. Side note: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends these as the most reliable form of birth control.

Pregnancies also increased: within 18 months, births rose from 27 percent in the counties with Planned Parenthood affiliates. “To see such a large increase in such a short time was surprising,” lead author Amanda Stevenson told The Los Angeles Times.

Related: Jennifer Lawrenece Has Some Strong Words on Planned Parenthood

The study also suggests that defunding Planned Parenthood ultimately hurt poor women the most: The 23 Texas counties contained 60 percent of the state's low-income women of childbearing age. A 2009 Guttmacher Institute report also found that the majority of low-income women view Planned Parenthood as their primary healthcare provider.

It's important to note that the research doesn't explicitly link the change in Texas policy to a baby boom but as The Los Angeles Times wrote, "after making it more difficult for women to get safe, reliable birth control, women switched to less reliable contraceptive methods, or skipped them altogether. The result is dozens of additional babies born to some of the thousands of women who had been served by the shuttered clinics."

Planned Parenthood Cuts Impacted Other States

While this was the first study to examine the effects of defunding the health organization, Planned Parenthood has received the ax from a handful of states, shaking up their healthcare. In 2001, Florida Governor Jeb Bush cut funding for Planned Parenthood by more than $300,000. This trim could be part of the reason for the meager state of health in Florida now, according to Mic.com. The article points out that a 2014 survey by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists found that 23 of Florida's 67 counties don't have ob-gyns at all and in some parts of the state, women have to travel at least an hour to the nearest reproductive health center. The evident lack of accessibility essentially invalidates the recent claim by Bush that women could easily obtain health services from "extraordinarily fine, federally sponsored community health organizations" around the country.

Planned Parenthood

When Ohio decided to cut funding last year, many health experts were concerned. “If Planned Parenthood goes away as a provider, there will be a void of services in our community, and we don’t have the capacity to fill that void,” Kelli Arthur Hykes, the health policy director for the department of health in Columbus, told The Guardian. “Anything that changes the balance of what’s available right now, we’re afraid it could be disastrous for our community.”

In Columbus, Hykes reported that low-income women wait up to six weeks for an appointment with an ob-gyn and even if the funds were reallocated to different providers, they would still only be able to increase their capacity by 10 percent.

Related: What Planned Parenthood Actually Does

Last month, Kansas was the most recent state to defund Planned Parenthood affiliates. The Washington Times reported that those clinics receive $61,000 a year to help cover the costs of important services like cancer screenings and health exams for lower income individuals. 

Meanwhile, when the state of Indiana shut down several of its rural Planned Parenthood locations, Huffington Post reported an HIV outbreak in Scott County.

This isn't the only important news about Planned Parenthood.

In September 2015, the Congressional Budget Office showed House Republicans that defunding Planned Parenthood would end up costing the government $130 million. The report found that while cutting funding for Planned Parenthood would save the government $520 million short-term, over the next several years it could cost the government about $650 million, as it would leave 650,000 women without "contraceptive education and counseling; pregnancy diagnosis and counseling; cervical and breast cancer screening; and education, testing, and referral services associated with sexually transmitted diseases."

In addition, recent Republican-led investigations haven't proved that Planned Parenthood is breaking the law, according to Think Progress. The organization was under fire after reports surfaced that it was illegally trafficking in aborted baby parts, which 12 states could not find evidence for.

 

Despite (now unsupported) claims that Planned Parenthood is up to no good, isn't valuable and would be better off eliminated, this new study as well as a handful of recent reports show that the organization indeed serves an important role in healthcare.