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Plan II Honors

S S 301 • Hon Soc Sci: Socl-Rprdctv Hlth

41895 • Potter, Joseph E.
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm CLA 0.122
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Reproductive Health and Population in Texas

General Description

Texas has been experiencing rapid demographic change in recent decades, and reproductive health has become a volatile and contested policy arena in the last two state legislative sessions. This course is focused on emerging population trends, and the impact of dramatic new policies related to family planning and abortion. Drawing on the work and experience of a comprehensive project at the Population Research Center—The Texas Policy Evaluation Project—it will provide students with an opportunity to learn about the elements of reproductive health, as well as methods for evaluating the impact of specific policy measures. The overarching objective is to learn how to use data to understand what is going on.


The readings for this course will be drawn from basic texts regarding demography, human fertility, contraception and abortion (eg. Newell, C. 1988. Methods and Models in Demography. New York: Guilford Press, and Hatcher, R. A., J. Trussell, A. L. Nelson, Cates, F. Stewart, D. Kowal, M. S. Policar. 2011. Contraceptive Technology, 20th Edition. New York: Advent Media), the literature on reproductive health in social science and medical journals, and articles in the press concerning reproductive health politics and policy in Texas. Two short commentaries regarding the issues the course will address are:

White, K., D. Grossman, K. Hopkins, and J. E. Potter. "Cutting Family Planning in Texas." New England Journal of Medicine 367, no. 13 (Sep 27 2012): 1179-­‐81.

D. Grossman, K. White, K. Hopkins, and J. E. Potter, 2014. “The public health threat of anti-­abortion legislation.” Contraception 89(2): 73-­74.

Course Requirements

Students will be given a series of assignments about a specific issue that will involve group work. Completing the assignment will involve finding relevant information, empirical analysis, writing up results, and then presenting them to the class. Questions to be addressed include: comparing Texas to other states, the impact of the 2011 cuts in funding for family planning on unintended pregnancies, and the politics of reproductive health. These assignments will count for 60% of the grade. A short paper and a mid-­term exam will count for 20% each.


Professor Potter is a demographer and Principal Investigator of the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, an externally funded five-­year project to evaluate the impact of the reproductive health legislation passed by the 82nd and 83rd Texas Legislatures. He teaches graduate level courses on demographic methods and human fertility, and is the author of numerous articles on reproductive health in the US and Latin America. He is particularly interested in improving access to long-acting and permanent methods of contraception. He has served as an expert witness in several recent court cases involving Planned Parenthood.

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    University of Texas at Austin
    305 East 23rd St
    CLA 2.102
    Austin, Texas, 78712-1250