Having reproductive freedom means that you have the ability to make decisions that affect your body, future, and family with the people you love and trust. It means having access to quality, affordable health care — regardless of your zip code, income, race, gender identity, or citizenship status. Essential to ensuring reproductive freedom for every body is a fair and accurate 2020 census.
Every ten years, the Federal Government sends out a 10-question survey — aka the Census — to every household in America. The census provides critical information to elected officials about the demographics of a specific population, including the health status and needs of people within that community. Changes in population are also used to inform the government’s decisions about which communities are most in need of federal funding for social services for people of low-income – including many essential reproductive health care services. Thirty-three million people of reproductive age depend on these services, including Medicaid and the Title X Family Planning program whose funding is informed by data collected from the Census.
The Census impacts things like who qualifies for Medicaid coverage, where to locate hospitals, and which communities qualify for government-funded family planning programs. In 2016, the Federal Government spent $360 billion on Medicaid funding, providing people of low-income access to reproductive health care such as birth control, HIV tests, and breast cancer screenings. Medicaid also covers nearly half of all U.S. births, and accounts for more than 70 percent of all family planning services for people of low-income. The Title X program provides critical access to contraception, STI/HIV services, and cancer screenings to more than 4 million people every year. These funds are distributed regionally based on information collected in the census.
So what happens if a state’s population is undercounted in the U.S. census?
The state loses funding for these critical programs. Historically, communities of color, people of low income, or people who are housing insecure are disproportionately underrepresented in the census due to structural racism and discriminatory policies. Black people were undercounted by more than 800,000 on the 2010 census, and 1 in 7 Black children are not counted in the census.
Factors such as residents living in inaccessible areas, being incarcerated, homeless or displaced by natural disaster, can all result in people, even whole communities, being missed by the Census Bureau, and not receiving the health care services they need.
Filling out the census helps ensure that those already left behind by our healthcare system have the opportunity to access affordable reproductive health care. When communities are represented in the census, they have a better chance of accessing critical programs and getting the support they need to raise a family in a safe and healthy environment.
Make sure your voice and the voices of those around you is counted by filling out the census and encouraging others to do so as well.
Fill out the Census TODAY (October 31 deadline)
In case you’re wondering about the Census, here are some facts about it that aren’t widely known:
Fiction: You have to be a citizen to fill out the census.
Fact: There is no citizenship question on the 2020 Census, according to the Census Bureau, so green card holders and non-citizens can fill out the census.
Fiction: Things like income, religion, and political preference are on the Census.
Fact: Nope. This isn’t true.
Fiction: I have to fill out the census by mail.
Fact: You can fill out the census by mail, online, or by phone. You can choose to fill it out by phone in 13 different languages.
Fiction: The census bureau asks for donations, social security #, or bank account numbers.
Fact: If anyone tries to get this information from you, they are scamming you and trying to commit a crime. The Census NEVER requires you to give any of this information out, and it never asks for money.
Fiction: The census bureau keeps your information confidential forever.
The Census Bureau doesn’t keep information confidential forever. However, it is illegal for the Census Bureau to share any personal data with any government or law enforcement agency.