The potential risk posed by Zika virus, which has been linked to serious health problems, including microcephaly in babies born to women infected during pregnancy, has highlighted the need for policies that support women as they plan and raise their families. The availability of Medicaid, Medicaid family planning coverage, public and private insurance coverage of abortion, and workplace pregnancy accommodations can all affect a woman’s ability to decide whether and when to start a family and her ability to protect her health during pregnancy. As of August 2, 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported 5,381 cases within the continental U.S., including 2,086 cases among pregnant women. These issues will continue to gain even greater urgency as the risk of exposure to Zika virus increases in certain areas of the United States.”
Since 2015, Zika virus outbreaks have been spreading in the Western hemisphere. In U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa, mosquitos are currently transmitting Zika virus locally. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported travel-related cases within the United States which are likely to result in local, mosquito-borne spread of the virus in some areas of the country in the coming months. Thus, it is critically important for states to implement policies that will support women and families as they plan and raise their families.
This map tracks five key policies — whether a state:
- Has expanded its Medicaid program to cover those with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level;
- Has supplemental Medicaid coverage of family planning services to make it easier to access birth control and related services;
- Covers abortion in its Medicaid program beyond instances in which the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest or endangers the life of the women;
- Does not prohibit private insurance coverage of abortion; and
- Explicitly requires workplace pregnancy accommodation for at least some categories of workers.
Women living or working in states at risk for Zika virus transmission may want to delay having children, making access to family planning services, including abortion care, especially important. Women who are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant need health insurance coverage. Concerns about health insurance coverage may be particularly salient for any woman at risk for having for having a child with a disability such as microcephaly. Pregnant women and women of childbearing age may be subject to discrimination at work based on their employers’ perception of Zika-related risks. Finally, pregnant women at risk for occupational exposure to Zika virus may need temporary workplace accommodations to reduce that risk.