Study: Childbirth rates could rise without Planned Parenthood

Amy Ong

UT’s Population Research Center studied the impact of withdrawing federal funding from Planned Parenthood on the increase in Medicaid-paid childbirths, particularly in women who had used injectable contraception from Planned Parenthood.

The UT study was conducted in the wake of the Texas state government’s replacement of the Medicaid Women’s Health Program with its own 100 percent state-funded Texas Women’s Health Program, which continues to exclude clinics that provide abortion services.  

The study, conducted by professor of sociology Joseph Potter and sociology graduate student Amanda Stevenson, was published in The New England Journal of Medicine as “Effect of Removal of Planned Parenthood from the Texas Women’s Health Program” on Feb. 3. It drew conclusions from pharmacy and medical claims taken from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2014. The data focused on women ages 18 to 44 with an income at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level. The claims were split into those filed in counties with active Planned Parenthood and those filed in counties without Planned Parenthood. 

Injectable contraception requires follow-up appointments every three months to effectively combat pregnancy. The research study concluded that following Texas’ defunding of Planned Parenthood, fewer women using injectable contraceptives returned to receive continual injections, thus leading to an augmented rate of childbirth in counties with Planned Parenthood affiliates and an increase in Medicaid-paid childbirths. 

The results of the study only, however, predict a general trend, Stevenson said.

“Women with private health insurance are not eligible for the programs we are estimating the impact of an exclusion from,” Stevenson said. “We would expect the exclusion of Planned Parenthood from a subsidized program like this to impact women eligible for the program, not necessarily women ineligible for the program.” 

Computer science sophomore Brian Zhu said he thinks Planned Parenthood has value, but the results of the study will not impact other states who are moving to defund it. 

“I think Planned Parenthood provides valuable services in the field of contraception,” Zhu said. “I think a lot of people already assume that if you defund Planned Parenthood the pregnancy rate will go up. States that defund Planned Parenthood have the same opinion as Texas, such as what we do see for abortion. I don’t think [the study] will significantly impact other states.”

Computer science sophomore Steven Chen said Texas voters elected the representatives who then chose to defund Planned Parenthood. 

“I think defunding is a choice of the government,” Chen said. “It is the choice of the majority of people in Texas to defund.”