By Maggie Mallon. Photos: Getty Images.
File this under "Yet another reason why Planned Parenthood is a valuable health service and should not be defunded at the hands of the House GOP": According to a new report from Yale University researcher Miranda Yaver, states that have a higher number of Planned Parenthoods have lower rates of teen births and STDs.
Yaver detailed her findings in The Washington Post, explaining that she first determined how many Planned Parenthood facilities operated per capita across all 50 states between 2008 and 2013. She then compared that information with the coinciding annual reports from the Centers for Disease Control regarding teen birthrates and STD diagnoses to determine if there was any correlation between the two. Adding variables of higher levels of poverty and lower rates of insurance (two factors that could contribute to a greater number of teen births or STD diagnoses), Yaver predicted that in the years when more Planned Parenthood facilities were open, the rate of teenage births and STD diagnoses would be lower. And that's exactly what she found.
States with fewer clinics saw higher rates of teen birth, while the reverse held true for locations with more Planned Parenthood facilities. Yaver's thesis was further reinforced in the data for STD diagnoses, as well as HIV tests and dependence on emergency rooms for outpatient care: The more Planned Parenthood there were in a state, the lower the rate for each of these variables.
However, Yaver did underscore that other factors may have also been at hand in the states with lower rates of teen births and STDs. Planned Parenthoods aren't opened at random and states that have a greater number of clinics may also have social programs in place to prevent teen pregnancy and the spread of STDs. But despite this caveat, Yaver's research reinforces the importance of Planned Parenthood's preventative services, particularly for low-income women who depend on Medicaid for their health care and turned to Planned Parenthood for care.
Still, House Republicans have spent years attempting to withdraw federal funding from Planned Parenthood because the health care provider includes abortion in its medical services. As has often been made clear, Planned Parenthood does not use federal money to cover abortion costs—under the Hyde Amendment, they are legally barred from doing so. Though recent efforts with the GOP's proposed health care bill to defund Planned Parenthood were thwarted, the organization will likely faced renewed scrutiny as the House considers next year's budget.
According to Yaver, 43 percent of Planned Parenthood's funding for 2014-2015 came from Medicaid reimbursements. For the women who rely on Planned Parenthood for services that they would otherwise be unable to afford—as Yaver notes, of the 491 counties with Planned Parenthood clinics, 103 of them are the only health resource that offers contraception to women on Medicaid—the loss of this federal money could seriously jeopardize their care—and put thousands of more at risk.
This story originally appeared on Glamour.
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