It’s been a tumultuous summer for Planned Parenthood (PP), as members of Congress threaten to hold the federal government’s budget hostage if it includes funding for the health care provider. In light of the threat, the Congressional Budget Office asked reproductive health and rights advocacy organization Guttmacher Institute to analyze previously compiled data to determine how defunding the organization would impact the 2.8 million people who use its services in the United States every year for everything from cancer-detecting Pap smears to abortions.
The analysis reveals that without Planned Parenthood, thousands of women would be left without comprehensive, timely care. Forty percent of the clinics are in areas where people of color are the primary residents. The average center serves a significantly larger volume of clients than county health departments and federally-qualified health centers, covering 36 percent of all women who turned to family planning health centers in 2010 (the latest year for which data was available). While the average PP works with 2, 950 clients seeking contraceptives each year, the average hospital center only touches 770 people. In 68 percent of the 491 counties where PP operates, the organization serves at least half of the women who seek care. And in 21 percent of the total counties, they are the only family planning center.
Other key findings reveal other ways that a significant decrease in funding would impact PP’s clients:
- Timeliness of care. The average wait for an appointment at PP is 1.8 days, contrasted with 5.3 to 6.8 days at other agencies.
- Access to reversible methods of birth control. Fully 91 percent of PP health center offer 10 of the available 13 reversible contraceptive methods, versus between 48 and 53 percent of sites operated by other types of agencies.
- Reduced access to women whose care is subsidized by the government. Of the 19 million women who are in need of publicly supported contraceptive services, 12 million of them live in the counties where PP operates.
(H/t Health Affairs)