Thanks to Texas Republicans’ assault on women’s rights and Planned Parenthood, a new study found that there has been a twenty-seven percent increase in babies born into low-income families. To put that into perspective, in 1945 there was only a FIVE percent increase in births and that increase is what led to the Baby Boomer generation.
The study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that women who had previously had access to affordable birth control through family planning clinics were directly affected by those cuts, and became pregnant due to the loss. Nothing in this study indicates that fewer abortions happened in Texas as a result of the closures of Planned Parenthood clinics — just increased births.
The study was performed at the University of Texas at Austin, and its authors say that it offers a sneak-peek of what states, who cut public funds from Planned Parenthood clinics, are going to look like. Joseph Potter, one of the authors, said that these laws definitely have a real impact on women, “It’s not like there is a large, over-capacity of highly qualified providers of effective contraception out there just waiting for people to show up.”
According to Deborah Netburn, for the LA Times:
Lawmakers in Arkansas, Alabama, New Hampshire, Louisiana, North Carolina and Utah have enacted policies to keep public funds out of Planned Parenthood clinics. Ohio is expected to be the next state to follow suit.
In 2011, a 66 percent cut in funding to Planned Parenthood in Texas resulted in the closure of 82 family planning clinics, and that was just the first step they took in their evisceration of the only provider of birth control for many poor women.
In 2013, since the law prevented them from restricting funds to family planning providers who also offered abortion services, they actually threw out the state-funded Medicaid program and replaced it with the Texas Woman’s Health Program so they could legally stop funding Planned Parenthoods across the state.
The resulting lack of affordable birth control resulted in a relative increase in births of twenty-seven percent, more than one in four, for women who lost access to Planned Parenthood over an 18 month period. The studies authors wrote that many of these births were probably unplanned since the increase was only seen in the counties where women faced new hurdles in access to contraception.
According to the National Center For Children In Poverty, forty-five percent of America’s children are already considered as low-income, without the increase in births due to lack of birth control. And poverty can have some pretty sickening effects on children:
Most of these children have parents who work, but low wages and unstable employment leave their families struggling to make ends meet. Poverty can impede children’s ability to learn and contribute to social, emotional, and behavioral problems. Poverty also can contribute to poor health and mental health. Risks are greatest for children who experience poverty when they are young and/or experience deep and persistent poverty.
Research is clear that poverty is the single greatest threat to children’s well-being. But effective public policies – to make work pay for low-income parents and to provide high-quality early care and learning experiences for their children – can make a difference. Investments in the most vulnerable children are also critical.
Ineffective policies, such at Texas’ decision to take contraception away from low-income women, seem to have a direct effect as well — slamming more and more families into persistent poverty through unplanned, rampant child-birth.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons