The Population Institute Releases its 2012 Report Card on Reproductive Health and Rights
October 25, 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Population Institute today released its first ever report card on reproductive health and rights in the U.S., and the results were not encouraging. Nine states receive a failing grade, and the U.S. as a whole received a "C-." In releasing the report card, Robert Walker, the organization's President, said, "We've seen a lot of progress in the past four decades, but we can't take anything for granted. The U.S. still has an unacceptably high rate of unintended pregnancies, including teenage pregnancies, and yet family planning clinics in many areas are being forced to close, and schools in many states are using unproven, abstinence-only sex education curricula."
While Congress has rejected efforts by social conservatives to de-fund family planning clinics, several states are drastically reducing their funding. In Texas alone, more than 50 family planning clinics have been forced to close their doors. Walker warned that, "While opposition to abortion is driving these political assaults, putting family planning clinics out of business will only increase the number of unwanted pregnancies and, as a consequence, the number of abortions being performed."
Using nine criteria, the Institute's report card ranked each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia:
- Thirty percent of the grade is based on measures of effectiveness. This includes the latest available data on the teenage pregnancy rate (15%) and the rate of unintended pregnancies (15%).
- Thirty percent of the grade is based upon affordability. This includes Medicaid eligibility rules for family planning (10%), insurance coverage of contraception (10%), and funding for family planning clinics serving low-income families (10%).
- Twenty percent of the grade is based upon prevention. This includes mandated comprehensive sex education in the schools (10%) and access to emergency contraception (10%).
- The final twenty percent of the grade is based upon clinic access. This includes abortion restrictions (10%) and clinic access protection legislation (10%).
Based upon their scores, each state received a "core" grade (A, B, C, D or F), but some states received an additional "plus" or a "minus" for factors not reflected in the core grade, such as pending changes or legislation.
Only twelve states received a B- or higher. Just three states (California, Oregon and Washington) received an "A". Washington received an "A+" rating and the highest composite score. Nine states received a failing grade ("F"). States receiving a failing grade included Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Tennessee.
Walker said, "The U.S. as a whole performs poorly compared to most other developed countries on the rates of teenage pregnancy and unintended pregnancies. Voters who care about reproductive health and rights need to know how their state ranks vis-a-vis other states."
In issuing the report, Walker warned that the status of reproductive health and rights in many states is under continuing assault. In the last two years, several states, most notably Texas and New Jersey, have slashed state funding for family planning clinics serving low-income and uninsured individuals. At the same time, abortion restrictions are multiplying. State legislators in the 50 states last year introduced more than 1,100 reproductive health and rights-related provisions, and 135 of them were enacted into law according to the Guttmacher Institute. Thirty-six states tightened restrictions last year.
For a copy of the report, including a state-by-state breakdown, visit the Population Institute's website (www.populationinstitute.org/reportcard). For questions about the report, call Jennie Wetter, Director of Public Policy, at (202) 544-3300, ext. 108.