According to a new report from the Population Institute, an international family planning nonprofit, the United States barely earns a passing grade on several measures of reproductive health care. Thirteen states failed the test — which includes rankings for affordable health care options and effective family planning resources — dragging the average score for the entire nation down to an unimpressive “C minus”:
CREDIT: The Population Institute
The Population Fund notes that while most Americans may be aware of the bleak national headlines about ongoing assaults on reproductive rights, they may not realize exactly where their own state stands. The group calculated each state’s grade based on factors like access to emergency contraception, comprehensive sex ed requirements, funding for government-run family planning clinics, abortion restrictions, the number of its residents who live in a county that lacks an abortion clinic, and whether its Medicaid program has been expanded under Obamacare.
The report authors note that the country is a “historic crossroads” when it comes to reproductive health. On one hand, the implementation of Obamacare represents a huge step forward for the women who will gain access to affordable insurance, including no-cost coverage for a range of preventative health services specific to their gender. On the other hand, fierce state-level attacks on family planning programs and abortion clinics are putting health care out of reach for many women.
“If the Affordable Care Act survives and more states expand Medicaid eligibility, the costs of accessing contraceptive services could be dramatically lower for most women, but if the state assault on family planning providers continues unabated and the courts do not rein in the growing number of abortion restrictions, many women will find it more difficult to gain physical access to family planning and abortion services,” the researchers warn.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, states have imposed over 200 restrictions on abortion in the past three years alone — and that doesn’t include attempts to defund Planned Parenthood and deny Medicaid coverage to low-income women. Fortunately, in recent months, some state lawmakers have demonstrated an increased willingness to turn the tide on issues of reproductive health, arguing for access to abortion within the larger context of policies to advance gender equality.