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Government/Politics

Study: State Efforts To Defund Planned Parenthood Led To Higher Birthrates

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Photo by Tamir Kalifa
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The Texas Tribune

A new medical study released this week shows the State of Texas’ efforts to defund Planned Parenthood has led to a spike in pregnancies in lower-income neighborhoods.   

The study conducted by the University of Texas at Austin's Population Research Center and published in the New England Journal of Medicine this month looks at the impact removing Planned Parenthood from the state’s Women’s Health Program had on unintended pregnancies in 2013.  The study shows that after the group was excluded from state and federal funding, women requesting long-term birth control options dropped by 35-percent, which researcher say has led to a 2 percent increase for unintended pregnancies in Texas counties with higher poverty rates.

Sarah Wheat with Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas is not surprised by the results of the study.

“Texas has one of the highest rates of uninsured women in the country and so for anyone out there who does not have health insurance and who is trying to frankly take care of their health and access birth control so they can plan and space their pregnancies, there are not a lot of options," said Wheat.

Murphy Republican Rep. Jodi Laudenberg voted in support of the 2013 legislative effort that led to defunding Planned Parenthood.

“Well if there are more births that’s a good thing, and we do take care of our women here in this state and we’ll step right to it for whatever needs to be done," Laudenberg said.

Laudenberg's senate colleague, Flower Mound Sen. Jane Nelson calls the study, "misleading."

In a written statement, Nelson pointed out how the study does not consider the number of women served by the state women's health program set up by the legislature.

Before 2013, only 23 of the 254 counties in Texas had a Planned Parenthood clinic, but research shows that those clinics served 60 percent of the state’s low-income women.

The researchers make the case that the 2013 policy change made it more difficult for these women to get access to birth control.