More Than 200,000 Women in Mississippi Live in Contraceptive Deserts
(Washington, D.C.) Data released by Power to Decide finds an estimated 208,400 women living at or below 250% of the poverty level in Mississippi live in contraceptive deserts, counties in which there is not reasonable access to a health center offering the full range of contraceptive methods. Currently, across the country more than 19 million U.S. women with low incomes live in such deserts.
“In Mississippi, more than 208,000 women must overcome significant barriers to get the birth control they need and deserve in order to decide if, when and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child,” said Power to Decide CEO Raegan McDonald-Mosley, MD, MPH. “The challenge of covering costs associated with obtaining family planning services—such as transportation, child care and unpaid time off from work—may be too great a burden for those already struggling to make ends meet.”
Access to birth control across Mississippi is made even more challenging due to a shortage of full-time clinicians at each health department clinic. Women in the state are also far less likely to have health coverage than women in other parts of the country, which limits their ability to get the birth control method that is right for them. In Mississippi, 19.2% of women of reproductive age (13-44) are uninsured, well above the national average of 12.1%.
Despite these obstacles, family planning providers are making every effort to provide contraceptive services to patients across the state. Still, Mississippi can take additional proactive steps to expand birth control access. This is more important than ever, as the pandemic continues to devastate people’s lives in various ways. For instance, Mississippi can enact policies to expand Medicaid to adults with low incomes, protect insurance coverage for the full range of contraceptive methods without cost-sharing, and require coverage for an extended supply of contraceptives. Further, allowing pharmacists to prescribe contraception would also help increase access to some methods.
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Power to Decide is a private, non-partisan, non-profit organization that works to ensure all people—no matter who they are, where they live or what their economic status might be—have the power to decide if, when and under what circumstances to get pregnant or have a child.