Defunding Planned Parenthood Led to More Teen Abortions and Unintended Pregnancies

Donald Trump and other Republicans are trying to defund Planned Parenthood nationwide, but Texas has already gone down that road and it ended with — wait for it — more teen abortions in the state.

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When Texas slashed the budget for family planning services and shut down most of its Planned Parenthood health clinics, the result was a nearly five percent increase in teen abortions. Who could have predicted this? Well, just about every person who supports Planned Parenthood.

The controversial data comes from a new study by Miami University economics professor Analisa Packham and published in the Journal of Health Economics.

Although the primary stated objective of the funding cuts was to decrease abortion incidence, I find little evidence that reducing family planning funding achieved this goal… The results indicate that the funding cuts increased abortion rates by 4.9 percent 1-2 years after the funding cuts and 3.1 percent over three years.

From page 35 of the study
From page 35 of the study comparing Texas with “Synthetic Texas” created using CDC abortion data.

The author of the study said more research would need to confirm the causal relationship between the funding cuts and increased abortion rates, but that a much clearer case can be made for the rise in unintended teen pregnancies. They rose by about 3.4 percent after Texas cut family planning funds.

This paper analyzes the effects of defunding family planning services on teen birth rates. Using a difference-in-differences approach, I estimate that decreasing funding for family planning in Texas by 67 percent led to an increase in the teen birth rate by 3.4 percent.

The research also shows how ineffective the Texas policies have been from a financial perspective.

Given that the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy estimates that the average cost of teen childbearing to taxpayers is nearly $27,000 per birth, the estimated costs of the reduction in family planning funding are $81 mil, although this figure does not account for births to older women or births that occurred more recently. Therefore the costs of unintended pregnancy caused by the policy change outweigh the $73 million budget cuts.

The author of the study added that similar funding cuts to family planning services “can have consequences that increase costs for the public sector” anywhere.

As five new states are currently considering legislation to defund family planning, it is important for future research to determine to what extent government policies that reduce access to low-cost contraception can influence teen sexual behavior and unintended pregnancy.

This study offers further evidence for what we already knew: Planned Parenthood helps women, helps families, and helps reduce abortion rates and unintended pregnancies. The organization, through its free birth control and counseling programs, prevents young girls from getting pregnant. If you oppose abortion, you ought to be celebrating that, not working to shut them down.

It might be hard for some right-wing Christians to understand, but Planned Parenthood isn’t some evil group pushing abortions on those who don’t want them. The organization wants to prevent women from being in the position of needing an abortion just as much as it wants to help women who request one. Without them, we may likely see more abortions that are much less safe. Is that what Christians really want?

(via Huffington Post. Image via Shutterstock)

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