Little is known about low-income women's and teenagers’ experiences accessing publicly funded family planning services, particularly after policy changes are made that affect the cost of and access to such services.
Eleven focus groups were conducted with 92 adult women and 15 teenagers in nine Texas metropolitan areas in July–October 2012, a year after legislation that reduced access to subsidized family planning was enacted. Participants were recruited through organizations that serve low-income populations. At least two researchers independently coded the transcripts of the discussions and identified main themes.
Although most women were not aware of the legislative changes, they reported that in the past year, they had had to pay more for previously free or low-cost services, use less effective contraceptive methods or forgo care. They also indicated that accessing affordable family planning services had long been difficult, that applying and qualifying for programs was a challenge and that obtaining family planning care was harder than obtaining pregnancy-related care. As a result of an inadequate reproductive health safety net, women experienced unplanned pregnancies and were unable to access screening services and follow-up care. Teenagers experienced an additional barrier, the need to obtain parental consent. Some women preferred to receive family planning services from specialized providers, while others preferred more comprehensive care.
Women in Texas have long faced challenges in obtaining subsidized family planning services. Legislation that reduced access to family planning services for low-income women and teenagers appears to have added to those challenges.
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2015, 47(2):TK, doi: 10.1363/47e2815
Kristine Hopkins is research assistant professor, Celia Hubert is a doctoral candidate and Joseph E. Potter is professor—all at the Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin. Kari White is assistant professor, Department of Health Care Organization and Policy, University of Alabama at Birmingham. Fran Linkin is a consultant for the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, University of Texas at Austin. Daniel Grossman is vice president for research, Ibis Reproductive Health, Oakland.