Thursday, April 4, 2013

New App Measures Impact of Family Planning Cuts

Want to know how the 2011 family planning cuts made by the Texas legislature affected your community? There’s an app for that.

Created by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) at The University of Texas (UT) at Austin, the TxPEP Family Planning Data Finder measures the impact severe cuts to the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Family Planning program and the Women’s Health Program have had at a local level.

“It was brought to our attention that people around the state had seen the global figures of what the cuts were, but people didn’t necessarily see it at the local level, and legislators certainly weren’t seeing it at a local level,” said the project’s leader, Joseph Potter, PhD, a sociology professor at UT.

The app displays the number of women in need of family planning services in each area as well as the area’s teen fertility rates and rates of sexually transmitted infections. It contrasts the number of state-funded family planning clinics operating in 2010 against the number still open in 2012, and illustrates the disparity between the number of women served by these clinics in 2010 and 2012. Additionally, the app compares the number of unintended pregnancies averted due to family planning services in 2010 and 2012. The data can be broken down by county, public health region, and even by individual House and Senate districts.

The impact of the cuts was not evenly felt across Texas, said Amanda Stevenson, a graduate student at UT and researcher for the project. “Some [areas] had no impact; other places were hammered ― [family planning services] were almost eliminated.” Rural counties were hit harder than urban counties. In Lubbock County, only 138 women were able to receive care at DSHS-funded clinics in 2012, a huge reduction from the 3,742 women who received care just two years earlier. Only one clinic in the county remains funded through DSHS grants.

“In the counties with only one clinic, now there’s zero clinics,” added Ms. Stevenson. “The cuts are badly out of step with the level of women in need.”

To see the impact in your community, explore the TxPEP Family Planning Data Finder.

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