The Austin Chronicle

Report: Most Women Face Barriers to Repro Health Care

By Mary Tuma, May 15, 2015, News

A new survey by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) – a multiyear effort examining the impact of state budget slashes to family planning from 2011 to 2014 – shows that a majority (55%) of women face at least one barrier to reproductive health care access, including access to cervical cancer screenings, with cost being the leading barrier.

Respondents also cited discomfort with health care providers, inability to take time off work or school, and inability to find a provider that accepted their insurance. Poor, less educated, Spanish-speaking women born in Mexico saw the greatest number of hurdles to access.

The results are more proof of the drastic changes caused by the state's massive cuts to women's health care, starting in 2011 when conservative lawmakers reduced family planning funds by two-thirds, or $74 million, resulting in the closure of or discontinued services at more than 80 clinics. And the damage could very well continue: This legislative session, the Senate version of the budget would throw up roadblocks for Planned Parenthood patients seeking access to breast and cervical cancer screenings (see "Defund Planned Parenthood ... Jeopardize Lives," Feb. 13).

The survey also highlighted women's desire to access better, more effective contraception – 61% of women using less effective methods (i.e., condoms, spermicide, withdrawal, and the rhythm method) would prefer to use more effective forms of birth control, including hormonal birth control, sterilization, and long-acting reversible contraceptives such as IUDs and implants. Researchers suggest that use of the preferred methods would "increase if available at no out-of-pocket cost."

Some 779 women between the ages of 18 and 49 participated in the survey conducted by researchers from the University of Texas, in conjunction with Ibis Reproductive Health and the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

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