The Washington, D.C-based Population Institute recently issued a report card on the state of reproductive health and rights in all 50 states and the nation as a whole.
California was awarded a grade of A+ for its score of 87.2 out of a possible 100 – the highest of any state in the country. Washington was the only other state in the nation to get an A+, while fellow West Coaster Oregon received an A.
The United States as a whole earned a mediocre C-.
The 50-State Report Card states that:
The status of reproductive health and rights in the U.S. is at an historic crossroads. At the federal level, the Affordable Care Act is expanding insurance coverage for reproductive health services, but at the state level political assaults on Planned Parenthood and other providers are threatening to limit access to family planning clinics. What happens in the next few years could dramatically affect the future status of reproductive health and rights in the U.S.
The criteria used in grading the states, and the scores of California in each category, are as follows:
- A low rate of teenage pregnancy (Calif. 12.7 of 15 points max.)
- A low rate of unintended pregnancy (Calif. 11.9 of 15 points max.)
- Comprehensive sex education in the schools (Calif. 7.5 of 15 points max.)
- Access to emergency contraception in the emergency room (Calif. 5 of 5 points max.)
- Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (Calif. 10 of 10 points max.)
- A Medicaid “waiver” expanding eligibility for family planning services (Calif. 10 of 10 points max.)
- Adequate state funding for family planning clinics serving low-income households, measured by dollars of assistance per woman in need (Calif. 10 of 10 points max.)
- An absence of burdensome abortion restrictions (Calif. 10 of 10 points max.)
- County-level access to family planning and abortion services (Calif. 10 of 10 points max.)
The Population Institute says that the C- earned by the U.S. as a whole was because:
- America’s rate of unintended pregnancy remains stubbornly high: almost half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended.
- Many of the gains that have been made in reproductive health could be reversed if social conservatives prevail in Congress and the state legislatures.
- Family planning clinics are being threatened by funding cuts and burdensome laws and regulations.
Californians should be proud of our A+, but not confuse achievement of relatively high levels of reproductive health and rights with the equally (or perhaps even more) important societal and environmental goal of population stabilization. Indeed, if reproductive health and rights were all there were to population stabilization, then California would be in great shape, but this is far from the case.
Our already overburdened state will be burdened by hundreds of thousands of additional residents (newcomers and newborns alike) in 2014 alone, as we approach the dubious milestone of 40 million, and by tens of millions more in the decades that follow.
This is what will happen if we continue to take the path of least resistance and acquiesce to our current demographic trajectory. But it’s not a fait accompli. If young California women freely opted to have slightly fewer children on average, but much more importantly, if America chose lower rates of immigration, we could step off this path to perdition.