This is an excerpt of an article posted on AJC.com on Aug. 13, 2015, by Kari White, assistant professor in Health Care Organization and Policy at the School of Public Health, University of Alabama-Birmingham.
"Last week, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley issued a notice that within 15 days, the state would terminate its contract with Planned Parenthood Southeast, which also operates clinics in Georgia and Mississippi, to provide contraception and reproductive health screenings through a Medicaid family planning waiver. Gov. Bobby Jindal took similar action, terminating Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast clinics’ Medicaid contract in Louisiana.
If successful, these efforts will deny women access to contraception and essential screening for cervical and breast cancer and testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) from experienced health care providers. They also have the potential to worsen the already poor reproductive health outcomes for women in the South.
Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi have some of the highest rates of unintended pregnancy in the United States. The incidence of STIs, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, among 15 to 24 year olds also is considerably higher than the national average. More than 20 percent of uninsured women in these states have not been screened for cervical cancer in the last five years. These states also rank among the worst in the nation for infant and maternal mortality and preterm delivery.
Many women in the four states already lack access to preventive and primary care services due to provider shortages. Therefore, measures to exclude Planned Parenthood from publicly funded programs at the state and national level will make it more difficult for women to obtain necessary health care. Based on my research at the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, it is not guaranteed former Planned Parenthood clients would be able to obtain reproductive health care from other providers...
State and national policymakers focused on defunding Planned Parenthood are targeting programs that do not fund abortion — directly or indirectly. This is not an approach that will reduce unintended pregnancy. Nor is it one that will improve the many other health problems women in the South face."