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New Research Shows the Impact of Defunding Planned Parenthood

Excluding affiliates of abortion providers led to decreased provision of highly effective contraception and subsequently led to increased Medicaid-paid births

[Download a PDF of this release here]

AUSTIN (February 3, 2016) — A new study demonstrates the consequences of excluding Planned Parenthood affiliates from Texas’ fee-for-service family planning program. After the exclusion, provision of the most effective reversible methods of contraception (IUDs, implants, and injectable contraception) decreased and Medicaid-paid births increased among injectable contraceptive users. Claims for IUDs and implants declined 35 percent and claims for injectable contraceptives declined 31 percent. Among users of injectable contraception, Medicaid-paid deliveries increased by 27 percent. Data was drawn from all Medicaid claims from 2011 through 2014, 2 years before and 2 years after the exclusion. The study was published February 3 in The New England Journal of Medicine.

From Dr. Joseph Potter, Professor of Sociology at The University of Texas at Austin, who supervised the study: “Simply put, dedicated women's health providers matter. Providers who are mission-driven and have the requisite experience and knowledge appear to be critical for the delivery of the most effective methods of contraception—IUDs, implants, and injectables. From a demographic perspective, this is important because both national studies and local studies show that these methods dramatically decrease unintended pregnancy. We also have accumulating evidence that there is unmet demand for these methods in Texas.”

From Pete Schenkkan, Austin attorney and co-author: “The results of the study have implications for ongoing litigation regarding publicly funded women’s healthcare programs. Initiatives to exclude medically qualified providers of family planning and other women’s health services if they are affiliated in any way with abortion providers have been adopted or proposed in 17 U.S. states and both houses of the U.S. Congress. Supporters of these proposals claim that other providers can meet the needs of women served by Planned Parenthood clinics. Until now, this claim had not been empirically tested. On January 1, 2013, Texas became the first state to enforce such a law, and the study analyzes the results of this real world test.”

From Amanda Jean Stevenson, lead author and Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at The University of Texas of Austin: “This study isolates the effect of the exclusion not only on the delivery of services but also on subsequent deliveries paid by Medicaid. We examined differences between counties that had and did not have a Planned Parenthood affiliate, finding worse outcomes in places impacted by the exclusion; whereas places unaffected by the exclusion continued as they had before.”

“The U.S. continues to have higher rates of unintended pregnancies than most rich nations, and we know that U.S. and Texas women face barriers as they try to access preventative services,” Stevenson said. “It’s a public health issue that Texas women struggle to achieve their reproductive goals.”

From Dr. Potter: “While this paper does not tell us much about women’s experiences after the exclusion, we have evidence from another study, recently published in the journal Contraception, that Planned Parenthood clients encountered barriers such as unnecessary exams, multiple visits, and additional costs as they tried to find a new provider after January 2013.”


About the Research Team
The study, “Effect of removal of Planned Parenthood from Texas women’s health program,” is the result of a collaboration between scholars from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project at the University of Texas at Austin (Amanda Jean Stevenson and Joseph E. Potter), researchers from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (Imelda Fores-Vazquez and Richard Allgeyer), and Austin attorney Pete Schenkkan of Graves, Dougherty, Hearon & Moody, PC. Mr. Schenkkan served pro bono as lead counsel for Texas Planned Parenthood affiliates in three now-concluded court cases opposing their exclusion first from the Medicaid Women’s Health Program and then from the Texas Women’s Health Program. Dr. Potter served as an expert witness for the plaintiffs in these cases, while Dr. Allgeyer served as an expert witness for the state.


About The Texas Policy Evaluation Project
The Texas Policy Evaluation Project is a five-year comprehensive effort to analyze the impact of reproductive health bills passed by the 82nd and 83rd Texas Legislatures. The project team includes researchers at the Population Research Center, the University of California San Francisco, Ibis Reproductive Health, and the University of Alabama-Birmingham. The project is supported by grants from the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation and the Society of Family Planning. Infrastructure support for the Population Research Center is provided by a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

If you would like to receive more information about this topic or schedule an interview with Ms. Stevenson or Dr. Potter please contact Laura Dixon at ldixon@prc.utexas.edu or (512) 788-2653.

[Download a PDF of this release here]