A team of researchers at the Population Research Center, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Ibis Reproductive Health is studying the impact of legislation affecting reproductive health enacted during the 2011 Texas Legislative Session. Provisions in the state budget bill cut family planning funding by two-thirds (from approx. $50 million to $15 million per annum), eliminating the majority of the programs most low-income women in the state relied upon for subsidized contraceptive services. In addition to family planning cuts, changes were also made in access to abortion services. HB 15, commonly known as “the sonogram bill,” instituted the performance of a mandatory sonogram, and provision of required information relating to abortion, at least 24 hours before an abortion procedure.
The Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) is studying the effects of these key pieces of reproductive health legislation on women and providers in Texas. The researchers are interviewing women about their experiences seeking contraceptive services and reproductive health care; interviewing clinic directors about clinic closures, staff losses, and the range and volume of services providers are able to offer; and analyzing state data on the number of births, unintended pregnancies and abortions. They will also estimate the cost to the state of any changes in these numbers.
Researchers with TxPEP published an article in the February issue of Contraception that discusses the effects that HB 2 will have on the health of Texas women, particularly low-income and young women who lack the resources to travel to clinics in a distant city or out of state, and the potential rise of abortion self-induction.
Researchers with TxPEP provided evidenced-based testimony with suggestions to improve the provision of contraception at the Feb. 20, 2014 Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
Researchers with the Texas Policy Evaluation Project have developed the TxPEP Family Planning Data Finder, a web app that describes the provision of family planning services in each county, Senate district, House district, and public health region in Texas, as well as for the state as a whole.
In "Cutting Family Planning in Texas," TxPEP investigators Kari White, Daniel Grossman, Kristine Hopkins, and Joseph E. Potter discuss the mechanism through which massive family planning budget cuts are affecting reproductive health in Texas.
In a statewide survey of all agencies that received public funding, we found that 22% were closed after the cuts went into effect and hours were reduced at an additional 16% of clinics.