The U.S. Gets a 'C' For Reproductive Rights, Which Seems Generous


For the third year, the Population Institute, a D.C.-based think tank that promotes access to family planning, has released a report card on the state of reproductive rights in the United States. Depending on where you live, things are bad to mediocre, with the country as a whole getting a ‘C’ grade and 15 states failing outright. Only 15, really?

Robert Walker, the Population Institute’s president, said in a press release that the U.S. has actually made a tiny advancement; last year, the country as a whole received a C- grade. “Nationally, the status of reproductive health and rights improved over the past year,” he’s quoted as saying. “The reported teenage birth rate, while still high, continued to fall, and as a result of the Affordable Care Act more women are able to access affordable reproductive health care. Those advances are largely responsible for the slight improvement that we see in the national grade. At the state level, however, there were several setbacks for reproductive health and rights.”

In grading the states, the PI considers factors like the accessibility of abortion, sex education in schools, access to emergency contraception, and affordability of care. (You can see an explanation of their criteria here.) The PI says the country is “at a crossroads,” with many states seeking to restrict access to abortion with burdensome regulations on clinics (no shit), but many more women gaining access to reproductive healthcare coverage because of Obamacare.

As for the failing states, they are: Texas, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia and Wyoming. Impressively, Texas and Albama managed to score F minuses, due to their incredibly high teen pregnancy rates, incredibly bad sex education, refusal to fund family planning efforts, rejection of Medicaid exansion, their commitment to making abortion as hard as possible to get, and, somehow—this must be totally unrelated to all that other stuff—a very high rate of unintended pregnancies.

One final note here: the Population Institute, founded in 1969, is not to be confused with the Population Research Institute, founded 20 years later. The former is a think tank concerned with healthcare access around the world; the latter was founded by a Catholic priest and pushes “pro-natal and pro-family” attitudes, i.e. anti-abortion ones, including promoting the bogus and oft-discredited link between breast cancer and abortion. It’s almost like the Population Research Institute is deliberately trying to be misleading? Can’t be. But proceed with caution nonetheless.

You can read the Population Institute’s full report here. Maybe next year the U.S. can inch all the way up to a C+, if Congress doesn’t spend all their free time trying to ban abortion.

Image via AP

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