The status of Ohio’s women: Access to safety-net family planning service

In October, The Center for Community Solutions released fact sheets on the Status of Women for every Ohio county. The fact sheets include health, economic, civic and education indicators. They allow people in counties to see how women – their neighbors – fare across a number of indicators. Through our presentations and media interviews, we have also focused on the data we were unable to include due to timing, the data not being complete across counties, and/or public at the time of release.

In the fact sheets, we included the following indicators directly related to health:

  • Access to a Community Health Center
  • Insurance status and type
  • Disability
  • Age-adjusted chronic disease death rate
  • Preterm births
  • Teen births
  • Late-stage cervical cancer diagnosis

Other health related indicators we pursued were behavioral health, maternal mortality, family planning access and domestic violence. Since the release, we have received data on family planning access, interpregnancy interval, and maternal mortality by county. This piece will discuss access to safety-net family planning, and we plan to have more publications on other data in the future.

When considering the status of women, family-planning services are critically important.

As a long-term administrator of the Title X grant in Northeast Ohio, Community Solutions has a deep understanding of the importance of family-planning services and the needs of the women served by that safety-net program. When considering the status of women, family-planning services are critically important. Simply put, family-planning services allow women to achieve their ideal family size. The services help prevent unintended pregnancies which can interrupt educational and professional goals, and exacerbate chronic health issues among women.

Clinics that offer safety-net family planning services make contraception accessible to low-income and/or uninsured women. The clinics accept public insurance, like Medicaid, and services are also available on a sliding-fee scale for low-income women who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. Power to Decide (formerly the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy) collects and disseminates national, county-level data on access to safety-net planning services, based on the number of women in a county who would be expected to rely on these services based on age and income. There have been a number of changes to the Title X program in the most recent funding cycle.

The following map provides a snapshot of access to safety-net family planning services in Ohio. Five counties have reasonable access to these services. The majority of counties, 49, have limited access and 34 have no access to safety-net, family-planning services.

Title X programs provide pap tests and the HPV vaccine, and screen and treat for sexually transmitted infections.

Power to Decide reports that in Ohio as of November 2019:

  • A total of 17 clinics lost Title X funding in 2019
  • A total of 13 counties are impacted by these changes; these counties have lost some or all of their Title X funded resources
  • Approximately 352,230 low-income women of reproductive age (ages 13 to 44) in need of publicly-funded contraception reside in these 13 impacted counties

Importantly, and related to other indicators we included in the Status of Women profiles, Title X programs provide pap tests and the HPV vaccine, and screen and treat for sexually transmitted infections; they also provide counseling on healthy pregnancies with women who plan to become pregnant. Given the attention to maternal and infant health in Ohio, these services are important to sustain in every county.