The unrelenting and unprecedented wave of attacks on reproductive health and rights has a devastating effect on the lives of people seeking health care. That’s why Planned Parenthood advocacy and political organizations fight to protect reproductive health care for everyone.
Inequality in Health Care Access
All people should have equal access to reproductive health care. And yet women of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ+ people (especially those whose identities intersect) are disproportionately impacted by restrictions on that care. For many, birth control and abortion are out of reach because of their income, where they live, or because their boss objects to it.
The compounded effects of anti-transgender bias and racial bias on Black transgender people is stark: In a nationwide study, 19% of transgender and gender-nonconforming people overall said they had no health insurance — and 31% of Black transgender folks said the same.
Historically marginalized communities not only have worse access to reproductive health care — they also, as a result, have worse health issues.
LGBTQ+ people’s reproductive health needs often go unmet by a system that has traditionally marginalized such care. In addition to high rates of stress due to systematic harassment and discrimination, which has been shown to affect physical and mental health, LGBTQ+ people face low rates of health insurance coverage, and high rates of HIV/AIDS and cancer.
Undocumented immigrants and recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a deportation relief program, are prohibited from accessing basic health insurance coverage through Medicaid and Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans.
Regardless of income, health disparities for people of color are disproportionately higher than their white counterparts by most measures of reproductive health, including rates of unintended pregnancy, the prevalence of HIV infection and STDs, as well as maternal and infant mortality rates — which are worse in the United States than other developed nations and are especially high for U.S. Black women, whose maternal mortality is more than twice the rate for white women.
One factor in poor health for marginalized communities: providers’ racial bias.
Doctors who discriminate (even unknowingly) leave patients of color with worse health outcomes. And LGBTQ+ people of color face even higher risks of discrimination from medical providers.
What is Health Care Equity?
To truly understand what health care equity is, it’s important to know the difference between equality and equity.
Equality gives everyone the same things, ignoring differences.
Equity gives everyone what they need, depending on their individual situation.
Reproductive health equity gives people what they need to have a fair chance at sexual and reproductive well-being and autonomy. That means your race, ethnicity, gender, income, sexual orientation, immigration status, or neighborhood does not disadvantage you from accessing the quality and affordable health care services you need to live a life of reproductive health.