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Indiana Among Worst States for Reproductive Rights

Indiana didn't do quite as badly as the 19 states that received failing grades in a new national report card on reproductive health care. (Population Institute)
Indiana didn't do quite as badly as the 19 states that received failing grades in a new national report card on reproductive health care. (Population Institute)
January 8, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana gets a D-minus on a state-by-state report on reproductive health rights by the Population Institute.

If it weren't for Indiana's recent plan for Medicaid expansion, said Jennie Wetter, the institute's director of public policy, the state would have gotten an F. She said too many people in Indiana don't have access to reproductive care, and the sex-education program for youth is sorely lacking.

"It mandates HIV education, but it doesn't make sure that schools are teaching about condoms," she said. "It doesn't require any sex education, so kids aren't getting the education they need. And right now, 61 percent of women who live in Indiana live in a county without an abortion provider."

Wetter said there's been a recent avalanche of legislation, both proposed and enacted, to restrict clinic access and reduce funding for Planned Parenthood and other providers. She said the state already is suffering from a shortage of family doctors.

Patti Stauffer, vice president for public policy at Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said there have been a lot of attacks on her organization lately. While many think Planned Parenthood only provides abortions, Stauffer said, there's much more to it than that.

"Access to family planning services, comprehensive sex education and promotion of sexually transmitted disease testing are all critical to promoting good public health and reducing unintended pregnancies," she said, "thereby also resulting in a decline in abortions."

Stauffer said 56,000 people a year are served in 23 health centers in Indiana and two in Kentucky. She said most are low-income residents.

"It's readily admitted that we do not have the public health capacity at this point within other sectors to pick up that," she said, "so if you're already looking at nearly 50 percent unintended pregnancy numbers, if you take Planned Parenthood out of the equation, what would you be looking at then?"

The report is online at populationinstitute.org.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN