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Women’s Law Center: Record number of women in extreme poverty in 2010

According to analysis by the National Women’s Law Center of the 2010 Census information, “record numbers of women were living in poverty — and extreme poverty” in 2010.

According to the analysis:

The poverty rate among women climbed to 14.5 percent in 2010 from 13.9 percent in 2009, the highest in 17 years. The extreme poverty rate among women climbed to 6.3 percent in 2010 from 5.9 percent in 2009, the highest rate ever recorded. Over 17 million women lived in poverty in 2010, including more than 7.5 million in extreme poverty, with an income below half of the federal poverty line.

In addition, the percentage of women under 65 without health insurance increased from 19.2 percent in 2009 to 19.7 percent in 2010, the highest rate recorded in more than a decade. The number of women younger than 65 without health care coverage increased to 19 million.

The Guttmacher Institute reported that poverty has the most significant effect on abortion rates. In the past decade, abortion rates in the U.S. have dropped among almost every subgroup of women, except for impoverished women.

This year, Florida’s state Legislature created even more barriers for low-income women seeking reproductive health services.

Florida’s Legislature passed five abortion-restricting bills. One bill removed the funding of abortions in health exchanges created by the federal health care reform bill, and does not provide protection for those facing a “serious health risk.” Other bills make it significantly more difficult for a minor to obtain a judicial bypass to the parental notice of abortion law and require doctors to perform an ultrasound before providing an abortion.

The Guttmacher report notes that these type of “restrictions on abortion disproportionately affect” poor women.

This year, the Florida Legislature also cut almost $1 million in local government aid for family planning. The Legislature also added a provision to the Medicaid reform bill that would allow any Medicaid provider to opt out of family planning on moral or religious grounds, which some argue would place more barriers to reproductive health care access for low-income women.

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