A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Friday, January 10, 2014

13 States Get An "F" In Reproductive Health And Rights

The map above is by the Population Institute in Washington, D.C.

For the second year, the Population Institute has issued a report that grades the country and the individual states on reproductive health and rights (using research information gathered by the Guttmacher Institute, the Kaiser Family Foundation, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and others).

The United States as a whole received a grade of C-, mainly because of the large number of unplanned pregnancies (about half of all pregnancies in U.S.), the possibility that reproductive health gains could be reversed as social conservatives gain power, and the threat of funding cuts & burdensome regulations to family planning clinics. That's not a grade to be real proud of, but at least it's not a failing grade.

But the same cannot be said of the individual states. While some have respectable scores (those above in blue and green), others get poor to mediocre scores (those in yellow and orange), and too many get a failing grade (those in red on the map).

How were these grades arrived at? The Population used research to grade the states on nine different criteria. These criteria (and the maximum points that can be earned in each) are:


  1. A low rate of teenage pregnancy (15 points maximum)
  2. A low rate of unintended pregnancy (15 points maximum)
  3. Comprehensive sex education in the schools (15 points maximum)
  4. Access to emergency contraception in the emergency room (5 points maximum)
  5. Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (10 points maximum)
  6. A Medicaid “waiver” expanding eligibility for family planning services (10 points maximum)
  7. Adequate state funding for family planning clinics serving low-income households, measured by dollars of assistance per woman in need (10 points maximum)
  8. An absence of burdensome abortion restrictions (10 points maximum)
  9. County-level access to family planning and abortion services (10 points maximum) 

There were 13 states that received a failing grade (an F). These are the states where fundamentalists and other social conservatives have a lot of power -- those who think women should be happy with a second-class citizenship status. Here are those states (and their grades, out of a possible 100 points):

Georgia..........43.8
Idaho..........43.0
Indiana..........38.6
Kansas..........37.0
Louisiana..........37.6
Mississippi..........34.8
Missouri..........43.8
Nebraska..........41.3
South Dakota..........37.0
Tennessee..........41.7
Texas..........41.3
Utah..........44.0
Wyoming..........40.1

On the other end of the spectrum, several states are doing pretty well. The following states have received either an A (80 to 100) or a B (65 to 79):

California..........87.2 (A)
Maryland..........80.9 (A)
Oregon..........90.0 (A)
Washington..........84.1 (A)

Connecticut..........75.2 (B)
Delaware..........74.7 (B)
Illinois..........69.7 (B)
Iowa..........65.0 (B)
New Jersey..........79.6 (B)
New Mexico..........78.1 (B)
New York..........77.1 (B)
North Carolina..........65.0 (B)
Ohio..........66.3 (B)
Rhode Island..........68.3 (B)
South Carolina..........65.2 (B)
Vermont..........78.0 (B)
West Virginia..........66.1 (B)

And then there are those states in the middle. Their scores are certainly nothing to brag about, but they aren't as bad as the 13 failing states either. The states scoring a C (55 to 64) or a D (46 to 54) are :

Arizona..........55.9 (C)
Colorado..........61.1 (C)
District of Columbia..........63.9 (C)
Hawaii..........62.3 (C)
Maine..........62.3 (C)
Massachusetts..........64.6 (C)
Michigan..........58.6 (C)
Minnesota..........63.7 (C)
Wisconsin..........61.0 (C)

Alabama..........46.3 (D)
Alaska..........47.5 (D)
Arkansas..........54.3 (D)
Florida..........46.4 (D)
Kentucky..........54.3 (D)
Montana..........51.0 (D)
Nevada..........51.7 (D)
New Hampshire..........51.0 (D)
North Dakota..........46.6 (D)
Oklahoma..........54.5 (D)
Pennsylvania..........48.3 (D)
Virginia..........51.9 (D)

Maybe I have too high a standard, but I don't find any of these 51 scores to be acceptable (but I do give the states with an A credit for trying hard). They should all be 100. Anything less than that shows at least some lack of respect for reproductive health and rights -- and therefore for women's rights (since reproductive health rights, along with voting and property rights, have been the biggest boon for women's rights in our country's history). We must do better.

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