Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
 
Guttmacher Policy Review
Summer 2006, Volume 9, Number 3
 
For the Record

One Million New Women in Need of Publicly Funded Contraception

Between 2000 and 2004, the number of U.S. women in need of publicly funded contraceptive services and supplies increased by 6%—more than one million women—to a total of 17.4 million (see table). The overall number of women in need of contraception, regardless of financial need, increased only marginally, suggesting that broader economic trends of the period, rather than population growth, have driven the change. The increasing need for subsidized family planning comes at a time when the very programs that provide these services are facing serious economic and political challenges.

Women are defined as being in need of contraceptive services and supplies if they are of reproductive age (13–44), have ever had sexual intercourse, and are able to become pregnant but do not wish to do so. Those with an income below 250% of the federal poverty level or who are younger than 20 (and thus presumed to have a low personal income) are considered in need of publicly funded contraception.

These trends, from a Guttmacher Institute analysis released in July 2006 and funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, point toward an especially rapid increase in need for family planning services among the nation's poorest women. Over the four-year period, growth in the number of women in need was four times greater—15% compared with 3%—among those with incomes under the federal poverty line ($15,670 in 2004) than among those with slightly higher incomes (100–250% of poverty). Meanwhile, the number above 250% of poverty (and not deemed in need of subsidized care) actually declined by 3%. Forty-one states experienced an increase between 2000 and 2004 in the number of women in need of publicly funded contraceptive services.

The same economic difficulties that seem to have driven these trends have also posed serious budgetary problems for the federal government and, especially, the states (related articles, August 2004, page 6, and December 2001, page 8). Together with the ascendancy of conservative ideology, these difficulties threaten to undermine the public programs, such as Medicaid and the Title X family planning program, that provide the funding necessary to meet this growing need for subsidized contraceptive services and supplies (related article, February 2005, page 4). Notably, changes to Medicaid law enacted in February 2006 allow states, for the first time since 1972, to exclude family planning from the package of services offered to some Medicaid recipients (related article, Spring 2006, page 2). Notably, these trends also come at the same time as the rate of abortion in the United States has essentially stagnated after a decade of steady decline (related article, page 2).—Adam Sonfield

 
SUDDEN SPIKE
Between 2000 and 2004, the number of women in need of publicly funded contraceptive services and supplies increased by over one million.
Women in need of publicly funded contraception
  2000 2004 % change
U.S. TOTAL 16,396,050 17,396,650 6.1
Alabama 275,750 282,320 2.4
Alaska 32,230 30,960 –3.9
Arizona 314,600 360,220 14.5
Arkansas 165,250 166,250 0.6
California 2,110,740 2,316,550 9.8
Colorado 229,000 244,430 6.7
Connecticut 161,100 174,690 8.4
Delaware 39,760 44,930 13.0
Dist. of Columbia 41,260 37,440 –9.3
Florida 848,380 895,150 5.5
Georgia 472,120 522,940 10.8
Hawaii 61,390 59,920 –2.4
Idaho 80,360 86,940 8.2
Illinois 694,420 721,980 4.0
Indiana 357,070 374,930 5.0
Iowa 168,760 174,730 3.5
Kansas 157,410 166,230 5.6
Kentucky 240,430 253,850 5.6
Louisiana 309,360 298,230 –3.6
Maine 78,700 82,030 4.2
Maryland 243,480 267,650 9.9
Massachusetts 333,710 328,250 –1.6
Michigan 562,410 610,790 8.6
Minnesota 253,250 271,860 7.3
Mississippi 194,380 190,550 –2.0
Missouri 342,080 365,440 6.8
Montana 54,990 55,010 0.0
Nebraska 102,430 111,680 9.0
Nevada 110,030 143,780 30.7
New Hampshire 62,840 63,520 1.1
New Jersey 395,100 398,050 0.7
New Mexico 127,390 132,570 4.1
New York 1,195,150 1,232,660 3.1
North Carolina 455,030 505,640 11.1
North Dakota 41,810 41,370 –1.1
Ohio 657,860 678,040 3.1
Oklahoma 217,250 212,550 –2.2
Oregon 196,920 217,410 10.4
Pennsylvania 715,330 740,470 3.5
Rhode Island 66,370 72,980 10.0
South Carolina 244,440 279,820 14.5
South Dakota 47,370 51,860 9.5
Tennessee 331,390 338,290 2.1
Texas 1,303,550 1,416,570 8.7
Utah 147,120 159,280 8.3
Vermont 37,550 35,300 –6.0
Virginia 365,760 386,980 5.8
Washington 318,990 339,020 6.3
West Virginia 110,200 104,270 –5.4
Wisconsin 294,440 320,710 8.9
Wyoming 29,340 29,560 0.7
Source: Guttmacher Institute, 2006.