Contraception Deserts: The Effects of Title X Rule Changes on Access to Reproductive Health Care Resources

Candis Watts Smith, Rebecca J. Kreitzer, Kellen A. Kane, Tracee M. Saunders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Historically, access to contraception has been supported in a bipartisan way, best exemplified by consistent congressional funding of Title X-the only federal program specifically focused on providing affordable reproductive health care to American residents. However, in an era of partisan polarization, Title X has become a political and symbolic pawn, in part because of its connection to family planning organizations like Planned Parenthood. The conflicts around Title X highlight the effects of intertwining abortion politics and contraception policy, particularly as they relate to reproductive justice and gendered policy making. Family planning organizations like Planned Parenthood have responded to these battles by bowing out of the Title X network. To what extent have contraception deserts-places characterized by inequitable access to Title X-developed or expanded in response to policy changes related to contraception and reproductive health? What is the demographic makeup of these spaces of inequality? We leverage data from the Office of Population Affairs and the U.S. Census Bureau and use the integrated two-step floating catchment area method to illustrate the effects of a major change in the Title X network in 10 states. Our results reveal the widespread human ramifications of increasing constraints on family planning organizations as a result of quiet but insidious federal bureaucratic rule changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)672-707
Number of pages36
JournalPolitics and Gender
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


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