Betty Jean Kerr People’s Health Centers, Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, and Contraceptive Choice Center, all based in St. Louis, are among the seven health centers targeted for a project that aims to make it easier for Missouri women, including those who are uninsured or underinsured, to receive quality contraceptive services.
The Right Time is led by the Missouri Family Health Council and is an initiative of Missouri Foundation for Health.
The other centers selected for the program are the Fordland Clinic in Fordland and Kimberling City, Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services in Columbia, the AIDS Project of the Ozarks in Springfield, and the Jefferson County Health Department. Two more sets of seven health centers will be added the next two years, leading to a peak of 21 centers in 2021.
“When women get pregnant on their own terms, they face fewer challenges in achieving their educational and career goals and are better prepared for the demands of parenthood,” the Missouri Family Health Council stated in a release. “This leads to healthier women and babies, substantial savings to Missouri’s health system, and reduced health disparities.”
The Right Time is a six-year initiative that will provide training, technical assistance, and funding to expand access to the full range of contraceptive methods. Its goal is to reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy in Missouri by 10 percent by 2024.
Currently, more than half (51 percent) of all pregnancies to women of all ages in Missouri are described by women themselves as unintended, according to the Missouri Family Health Council. Although there have been broad declines in unintended pregnancy, both nationally and in Missouri, large disparities remain. Low-income women are nearly six times more likely than women of greater economic means to experience an unintended pregnancy, and rates also remain disproportionately high among women of color and those in rural areas, according to the council.
The Right Time is focused on addressing these disparities by improving information about contraception, removing barriers to quality contraceptive services, providing more women with access to the full range of contraceptive methods, and helping women find the method that works best for them.
The Missouri Family Health Council is a private nonprofit organization that champions access for every individual to culturally sensitive, quality, sexual and reproductive health education and services. It supports systems of care throughout the state, with particular emphasis on safety net providers, in delivering patient-centered reproductive health care to all those who seek services. Its programming is focused on removing cost barriers, specifically for the uninsured, and supporting health centers through quality training, analysis, and collaboration.