Between 2009-2011, the most recent period for which data are available, 60% of pregnancies in Mississippi were reportedly unintended, and the majority of those unintended pregnancies were wanted – just at a later date.  Mississippi has historically had some of the highest rates of unintended pregnancy in the country…and lowest rates of use of the most effective methods of contraception. The social and economic implications of unplanned pregnancy for women, families, and the State are wide-reaching and enduring. Other states have demonstrated that increased use of the most effective methods of contraception contributes to reductions in rates of unintended pregnancy, teen births, and abortion.

The Center for Mississippi Health Policy undertook a three-part project to collect and analyze data that would provide insight into the reasons Mississippi is such an outlier in this regard. This included a synthesis of background research including women’s health care claims and public clinic utilization data, a survey of healthcare providers, and a survey of Mississippi women about contraception.

The results of these studies provide valuable information that reveal structural and systemic barriers that may limit women’s access to more effective birth control methods or that create defaults to less effective methods. Several key overarching themes emerge from the research. Key findings include:

  • Use of the most effective methods is low in Mississippi, particularly among young women, minority women, women who rely on publicly funded services and public insurance.
  • Several barriers to wider use of the most effective reversible methods have been identified including:  service provision, provider training and attitudes, and patient knowledge and perceptions.
  • Because many women in Mississippi use primary care clinicians for reproductive health and access to birth control (particularly young, nulliparous women), these providers should be trained in counseling women on all methods of contraception.

Preventing Unintended Pregnancy in Mississippi

unintended pregnancy

The Center conducted background research on unintended pregnancy in Mississippi, examining data from a survey of new mothers, as well as from insurance claims and public family planning programs. Key findings include:

  • Mississippi has one of the highest rates of unintended pregnancy in the US.
  • Most of those unintended pregnancies were wanted at a later date.
  • Use of the most effective reversible methods of birth control is low in Mississippi relative to other states, particularly for some populations.
  • Successful efforts in other states to improve access to the most effective contraceptive methods have included both clinician training and patient education.

To read the full report, click here.

Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives: A Survey of Mississippi Health Care Providers


Researchers with the Social Science Research Center at Mississippi State University surveyed ob-gyn’s, family practice physicians, and nurse practitioners in the state to assess their attitudes, opinions, beliefs, and practices related to long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs). Key findings include:

  • Women’s knowledge and perceptions about the most effective methods of birth control may impact utilization, as well.
  • Women rely heavily on their providers for information and guidance about birth control.
  • Many women seek care from providers who have not been trained to provide all methods of birth control or counsel on all methods.

To read the full report, click here.

Contraceptive Access, Choice, & Utilization: A Survey of Mississippi Women


Researchers with the University of Southern Mississippi surveyed women of child-bearing age in the state to determine what factors influence women’s choice of birth control methods and what barriers, if any, limit them in obtaining the method of their choice. Key findings include:

  • Providers’ training, knowledge and opinions about the most effective methods have the potential to impact use of the most effective reversible methods of birth control
  • Some providers hold beliefs and attitudes about the appropriateness of LARCs for certain patients that are inconsistent with national guidelines.

To read the full report, click here.

Publicly Funded Contraceptive Services

publicly-funded clinics across MS

Since the implementation of key federal and state policies in the past decade, women in Mississippi have gained the broadest access to insurance and coverage for contraception to date. However, approximately one-fifth of women in the state remain uninsured, and the most effective birth control methods ( which require interaction with healthcare providers for prescription or other administration) are out of reach for many low-income women. Mississippi’s publicly funded clinics and programs are critical support for disadvantaged women in accessing effective birth control.

Publicly Funded Contraceptive Services, a county-level factsheet offers information on the scope of need for publicly funded contraceptive services in Mississippi as well as county-level estimates of need for publicly-funded contraception and the percentage of need that may be met by publicly-funded providers. It can be downloaded here.

Also, related blog article on, A Quick Look at Contraceptive Access in Mississippi, can be found here.

Sex Education

In 2011, the Mississippi Legislature enacted a law (§37-13-171 et seq.) that required each local school board to adopt an abstinence-only or abstinence-plus policy on sex-related education (SRE) and to implement an SRE curriculum beginning in the 2012-13 school year.  This law is scheduled to expire July 1, 2016, unless the Legislature takes action to extend the act.

Since enactment of the law in 2011, the Center for Mississippi Health Policy has conducted several studies designed to provide information to policymakers on parents’ opinions and on how the law has been implemented in the state.

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