If you think we’ve been crying wolf when we say that women’s access to birth control is under attack, here’s some proof. A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine evaluated the initial impact of recent birth control-focused budget cuts in Texas. In 2011, Texas lawmakers cut funding for birth control services by two-thirds. And to add insult to injury, they adopted a provision that would give the remaining funds first to entities other than family planning clinics. In other words, family planning clinics were the very last on the list to get limited family planning funds!
The impact? Already, 53 clinics that provided birth control services have closed. Clinics that remain open have been forced to restrict access to the most effective contraceptive methods (like IUDs) because of their higher up-front costs. And clinics are requiring women to pay for services. Those who can are choosing less effective birth control methods, purchasing fewer pill packs, and forgoing testing for STIs in order to save money. Those who can’t pay are being turned away. As the authors put it: “Disadvantaged women must choose between obtaining contraception and meeting other immediate economic needs.” The study is ongoing, and we’re sure to see even more troubling results as time passes.
If you didn’t believe us before, believe us now. Opponents of birth control want to take away women’s access to birth control, with devastating consequences for women and their families.