The passage of the Affordable Care Act has marked significant benefits for women, including ensuring increased access to contraceptive services and putting an end to discriminatory insurance practices that charge women higher rates simply based on their gender. And there is yet another important way that Obamacare is helping to advance women’s health under a new program called the Pregnancy Assistance Fund (PAF).
PAF helps fund programs across the country that provide services for pregnant teens and young adults, such as increased sexual education and parenting classes. As RH Reality Check reports, Shauna Humphreys runs one organization working with young Native American mothers in Oklahoma that benefits from PAF grants to bolster their critical services:
Vastly more robust than the program Humphreys ran prior to receiving a 3-year PAF grant at $900,000 per year, [her organization] is staffed with six caseworkers who visit clients’ homes monthly to deliver parenting and life skills training. Caseworkers also serve as a general support network for young women who are experiencing domestic violence.
“These young women need this level of support. They typically don’t have anyone helping them to meet their personal goals,” said Humphries, herself a mother of twins. “I can’t imagine being pregnant in high school and trying to figure out my life after having a child.”
The United States has a higher rate of teen pregnancy than any other developed country in the world. Although the teenage pregnancy rate has been steadily dropping throughout the country, it still remains high in some states that are failing to provide adequate preventative care, such as comprehensive sex education, for teenagers and young adults. Teen pregnancy is correlated with increased education and income gaps.
Of course, if Republicans succeed in repealing the health care law — which they have already spent up to 89 hours and $51 million dollars trying to do — PAF will cease to exist along with the rest of the important provisions of the law that work to expand access to health services to millions of Americans. Stories like Humphreys’ underscore the point, however, that the battle over health care reform is more than a purely political issue when it directly impacts American people struggling to gain access to the care they need.