The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that family planning services support “smaller family size and longer interval between the birth of children; increased opportunities for preconceptional counseling and screening; fewer infant, child, and maternal deaths; and the use of barrier contraceptives to prevent pregnancy and transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).”
When the Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe v. Wade and ended limitations on states’ abilities to regulate access to abortion, family planning services in Texas were limited to health services that exclude abortion services. These changes in the law may impact the demand for family planning services among Harris County residents.
The Analyst’s Office published a memo in response to a request by the County Judge’s Office to explore ways to promote and expand family planning and related services in Harris County. The memo presented information about clinics providing family planning services in the County, described the demographics of individuals seeking these services, and reviewed how other jurisdictions around the country were responding to the changes in the law.
Family Planning Clinics in Harris County
At the federal level, three key funding sources exist for family planning services: Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act, Title X Family Planning Program, and Medicaid. These three funding sources help local organizations, including those considered as federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and Title X subrecipient agencies, provide a wide range of family planning services to Harris County residents.
Harris County also offers a variety of affordable and no-cost contraception, sexual education, family planning, and other programs through the Harris Health System (Harris Health) clinic, Harris County Public Health (HCPH) clinics, and HCPH’s partnership with Baylor College of Medicine’s Teen Health Clinic. Figure 1 displays the locations of the clinics operated by Harris Health, HCPH, and the Baylor Teen Health Clinic, along with other major publicly funded clinics that provide family planning services within Harris County. Additional clinics offering family planning services include City of Houston health centers, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), and Planned Parenthood clinics.
According to information provided by the Harris County Office of Management and Budget in Table 1
, 178 major publicly funded clinics provide family planning services in Harris County.
The impact of recent changes to family planning services in Harris County is still developing, but the Analyst’s Office has offered three policy considerations for the County to consider to meaningfully promote and expand access to these services. The considerations include:
- Monitor and evaluate changing demands for existing services and consider increases in funding where changes in demand demonstrate need.
- Expand access to family planning services using mobile health services.
- Inform residents about enhanced health insurance affordability.
In response to this memo being presented to the Commissioners Court, the Court directed the County’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Steering Committee to “consider the investments in family planning and reproductive health services recommended by the Commissioners Court’s Analyst Office memo.” The County Judge, along with Commissioner Precinct One, announced the Reproductive Healthcare Access Fund in the amount of $6 million to “increase access and utilization of reproductive healthcare services and products.” The funding will aid under-resourced clinics to build capacity and expand service areas in priority zip codes as well as support grassroots organizations in providing education on and promoting these services within the community. Proposal funding and selection will be administered through Harris County Public Health, with the implementation of program funding estimated to begin in June 2023.
To read the full memo about family planning services in Harris County, click here. The Analyst’s Office released an addendum to this memo with specific service and expenditure data of Harris County health entities. Keep an eye out for the next family planning blog!