Family planning funding and expansion
At the beginning of the 21st century, the CDC recognized family planning as one of the most significant public health achievements of the 20th century, and for every dollar we invest in family planning, we save four dollars in state Medicaid funds. Planned Parenthood works to maintain this public investment that improves the health of Montana’s families, communities and economy. Family planning is about more than birth control, and addresses contraception, infertility, and a wide range of risk behaviors and health conditions that affect reproductive health and healthy pregnancies.
Federal Health Reform
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care for America Act offers a mixed bag of wins and losses for women’s and reproductive health. Planned Parenthood was a key advocate for women’s health in the reform process and secured a number of key advances for women’s health including expanding access to essential community providers, complete coverage of preventative care like breast and cervical cancer screenings, and expansion of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Plan.
Unfortunately, Health Reform also includes the dangerous Nelson Provision, which segregates coverage for abortion care by requiring every enrollee in the health exchanges to write separate checks for their coverage: One for abortion care, and one for everything else. This could result in moving health insurance companies away from covering abortions and hindering the development of a supplemental coverage market for abortion care. Health reform also restricts coverage for abortion care in High Risk Insurance Pools.
A catalog of evidence highlights the effectiveness of comprehensive sex education. Comprehensive sex education addresses both abstinence and age-appropriate, medically accurate information about contraception. Comprehensive sex education is also developmentally appropriate, introducing information on relationships, decision-making, and skill building to resist social pressure. Planned Parenthood works in communities across the state to offer age-appropriate, comprehensive sex education, and recently advocated for the new Helena Public Schools Health Curriculum, which includes comprehensive sex education. Despite the backlash from a loud minority, polls have shown that parents, teachers, health care professionals, and young people all support sex education that is comprehensive and provides information about abstinence as well as contraception and STD prevention.
In 2010, Planned Parenthood founded the Montana Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition in order to address the issue of teen pregnancy in our state. Planned Parenthood brought together health providers, educators, advocacy organizations, and community leaders to work together to develop strategies for reducing the number of unintended teen pregnancies in our state. The United States’ teen pregnancy rate is higher than any other industrialized country, and Montana is ranked 3rd in the nation in teen birth rates. Pregnant teens are more likely to have late or no prenatal care, higher rates of low birth-weight babies, and babies who die within the first year of life. These teens are less likely to finish school and are more likely to have additional unintended pregnancies than women who postpone pregnancy. Effectively addressing teen pregnancy requires action in all our communities, and Planned Parenthood is leading the charge.