Reproductive Health Rights By State: The Population Institute’s Report Card for 2014 Shows the U.S. Still Has a Long Way to Go

It’s been glaringly obvious for quite some time now that a lot of the U.S. has a really messed up view of reproductive health and rights — and now we’ve just got further confirmation that we have a long way to go before we reach a place wherein neither are restricted in damaging ways. The Population Institute just released their annual Reproductive Health and Rights Report Card measuring how well each state in the nation is doing with regards to those two very important topics — and guys? It’s not good. Seriously. We’re in trouble here, and it could very well just keep getting worse.

Each state’s grade on the report card was calculated using four broad indicators weighted as follows:

  • Effectiveness: 30 percent. This category subdivides into the latest available data on the teenage pregnancy rate and the rate of unintended pregnancies, which clock in at 15 percent each.
  • Affordability: 30 percent. This includes whether states are expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (10 percent), Medicaid eligibility rules for family planning (10 percent), and funding for family planning clinics serving low-income families (10 percent).
  • Access: 20 percent. Abortion restrictions count for 10 percent, as does the percent of women living in a county without an abortion provider.
  • Prevention: 20 percent. 15 percent of this category went to mandated comprehensive sex ed in schools, while five percent went to access to emergency contraception.

Only 19 states scored in the B- to A+ range (and only four of those 19 earned an A to A+), while a whopping 33 scored a C or lower. Even worse? Almost half of those 33 — 15 of ‘em — flat-out failed. Yikes.

Although it’s cold comfort in the face of so many individual failing grades, the good news is that the national average has risen slightly over the past year; the U.S. as a whole is now at a C, rather than a C-. Said Population Institute president Robert Walker in a release, “Nationally, the status of reproductive health and rights improved over the past year. The reported teenage birth rate, while still high, continued to fall” — which echos data released by the CDC back in April — “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 we see in the national grade.”

But that’s where the good news ends: Walker continued, “At the state level, however, there were several setbacks for reproductive health and rights. Next year, if Congress and the states cut funding for family planning and impose arbitrary restrictions on abortion services, or if Congress repeals or limits contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. grade could slip back to a C- in 2015.” These things are all frighteningly real possibilities; Congress, after all, just introduced five abortion restriction bills that would severely impact access to the procedure in its first days back. To say that this doesn't bode well would be the understatement of the year (so far, at least).

You and me both, Han.

You can see the whole map, as well as reports for each individual state, over at the Population Institute’s website; for the curious, here’s where each state fell in the grading:

  • F to F-: Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming.
  • D to D-: Montana, Utah, Arizona, Alaska, Arkansas, Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.
  • C to C-: Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Hawaii, and Maine.
  • B to B-: Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
  • A to A+: California, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington.

Head on over to the Population Institute for more.

Images: Foxtongue/Flickr; Giphy (2)