The economy is affecting Utah women's most private decisions: More are seeking help with planning their families, from seeking subsidized birth control to getting abortions.
"We certainly see an impact on the number of people looking into contraceptive services," said Karrie Galloway, CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah.
The group receives federal money to provide subsidized birth control and annual breast and pelvic exams to low-income women. While birth control can cost up to $60 a month, her clinics can provide it free or for up to $15 a month, depending on income.
With extra federal money, seven Planned Parenthood's clinics in Utah were able to expand hours and add staff in November. The clinics had seen an 8 percent increase in demand from 2007 to 2008, up to around 45,000 patients. Even so, the clinics remain busy.
If "you just lost your health insurance, you may think more seriously about planning your family than just having it happen," Galloway said. "It can be a problem for you in balancing the needs of your current family with an expanded family."
Which is why Cassi and William Yarbrough, both in their 20s, are being "way more careful" to prevent another pregnancy. The West Valley City couple and their two children, ages 2 and 3 months, were at a state insurance fair Tuesday to sign up for health insurance. Because William works two part-time, seasonal jobs and Cassi stays at home, the couple struggles with money. He foregoes medications to pay for diapers and the electric bill, for example.
"We want to wait until our finances pick up," Cassi Yarbrough said, noting that she hopes to qualify for government insurance to get on birth control. "I just worry if the economy is going to get worse. I would starve myself before my kids [go hungry]. What if it gets so bad I don't have food for them?"
Alicia and David Grunig would have liked to have another child by now, with their son almost 2 years old. But while at the insurance fair, they said they're waiting to move out of her grandparents' home and for him to find a more stable job. By then, David Jr. will also be out of diapers, saving the West Valley City couple some cash. To pay $55 a month for birth control, they forgo cable.
"We were talking about trying to have another one before things took a turn for the worse," she said.
At Mountain View Women's Clinic in Holladay, one of three Utah clinics that provide abortions, medical director William Adams said he has noticed a difference in the demographics of women seeking abortions this year.
While the majority of women are unmarried, he's seen a handful, maybe six, patients who are young, married and some with other children.
"A few women are having [abortions] that probably wouldn't have had them last year. ... The woman's not very happy about it," he said, anticipating more abortions this year. "Typically the abortions do go up when the economy goes down."
The most recent numbers available show the number of Utah women seeking abortions in the state went up by 72 in 2007, to 3,516.
The Pregnancy Resource Center, which provides women with information on social services, adoption resources and maternity and baby clothes, is seeing 15 to 20 more clients a month. More are asking about adoption. More need help with clothes and baby supplies.
"We're seeing an increase in women wanting to talk about their pregnancies because of feeling stressed [about their finances]," said Tamara Anderson, director. "We're seeing [more] married women that are coming for help. ... Individuals who are feeling the crunch of maybe one person in their family got laid off, they're not having the economic stability they did, [and wondering] how can we afford a child?"
Government agencies that provide services to pregnant women and children are also seeing the crunch.
The number of pregnant women and children up to age 5 who qualify for food vouchers and nutritional counseling through the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program has increased 10 percent since 2007, up to 72,000 clients. The state hasn't cut back on food, however, because prices have stabilized.
In Salt Lake County alone, the jump in WIC this February was 16 percent higher than the same time last year. The 29,500 clients are the highest in at least a decade.
County WIC bureau manager Iliana MacDonald's explanation: "Our economy. People getting laid off."
Busier family planning clinics
Utah's eight Planned Parenthood's clinics saw a 51 percent increase in visits from 2004 to 2007.
2004 » 49,868
2005 » 59,779
2006 » 65,165
2007 » 75,530
More women seek WIC food assistance
Enrollment in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program, which offers food assistance, has increased statewide 10 percent since 2007, up to 72,000 clients.
October 2007 » 65,260
October 2008 » 70,601
February 2009 » 72,010