You know what the worst part is about the news that America’s grade for women’s reproductive health is a C-? The fact that I’m not even surprised.
The Population Institute, a nonprofit that promotes universal access to family planning education, released its annual 50 state report card detailing the state of reproductive health and rights in America. For 2013, the U.S. was given a C-, the same score as the year before. However, many states saw their individual scores decrease after a year of legislative assaults on women’s health. Between 2011 and 2013, more abortion restrictions were enacted than in the entire previous decade. The Population Institute explains that the nation’s poor score is largely due to the tension between federal efforts to expand access to reproductive health services and state efforts to defund and limit the reach of family planning clinics. Here’s their summary of findings:
“The status of reproductive health and rights in the U.S. is at an historic crossroads. At the federal level, the Affordable Care Act is expanding insurance coverage for reproductive health services, but at the state level political assaults on Planned Parenthood and other providers are threatening to limit access to family planning clinics. What happens in the next few years could dramatically affect the future status of reproductive health and rights in the U.S.
If the Affordable Care Act survives and more states expand Medicaid eligibility, the costs of accessing contraceptive services could be dramatically lower for most women, but if the state assault on family planning providers continues unabated and the courts do not rein in the growing number of abortion restrictions, many women will find it more difficult to gain physical access to family planning and abortion services.
Because of these two conflicting trends, the United States as a whole received the same grade for 2013, a “C-“, as it did the prior year, but several states saw their grades decline as a result of abortion restrictions or cutbacks in support for family planning services.”
The only states that scored in the A to A+ range? Washington, Oregon, California, and Maryland. Compare that to 13 states that scored in the F to F- range: Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. You read that right. There is an F- score. Shame, shame, shame.
We already know that the U.S. lags far behind other wealthy nations in terms of general health and especially women’s health. In 31 out of 50 states, half of all pregnancies are unintended. Only 22 states mandate sex education, and about 65 million Americans have at least one viral STI.
If only reproductive health report cards worked like school sports. No pass, no play.