Utah Ranks High on Women’s Health, Low on Reproductive Rights

A new state-by-state analysis released today by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research finds that Utah ranks fourth in the nation on the health and well-being composite index, earning a “B,” and 37th on the reproductive rights composite index, earning a “C minus.”  

National data on violence and safety illustrate continuing widespread challenges in reducing violence against women and girls, and compare states on a variety of statutes.  The analysis was released by IWPR as part of its Status of Women in the States 2015series. The three reports – on health and well-being, reproductive rights, and violence and safety – find large disparities across the states and among racial/ethnic groups when it comes to women’s health and safety.

Health and Well-Being.  Since 2004, Utah has declined on the Health & Well-Being Composite Index and now ranks fourth among the states; in 2004 Utah was ranked first.  Utah has improved on heart disease mortality, lung cancer mortality, and breast cancer mortality; has gotten worse in the incidence of diabetes, chlamydia, and AIDS; and has declined in the areas of mental health and suicide mortality.  Black and Native American women have higher rates of diabetes than other women, and Hispanic women are the least likely to have health insurance.

Women in Utah experience more days per month with poor mental health than men (4.2 days for women compared with 2.8 days for men). This number has increased slightly since 2000, when women in Utah reported 4.0 days of poor mental health per month.  The rate of suicide mortality has also increased for women in Utah.

“Equitable access to health care is critical to ensuring that Utah’s women are able to thrive economically, nurture their families, and participate fully in community life,” said YWCA Utah CEO Anne Burkholder.  “We strongly support efforts to focus more intensively on addressing racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes experienced by women in our state.”

Reproductive Rights.  Utah ranks 37thon the Reproductive Rights Composite Index, which incorporates nine component indicators including access to family planning, coverage of infertility treatments, and sex education.  The state’s grade has improved slightly since 2004, when the index was last calculated.

Violence and Safety.  In Utah, 23.1 percent of high school girls report experiencing bullying, compared with 20.5 percent of high school boys. In addition, 7.7 percent of high school girls in the state report experiencing physical dating violence, 15.1 percent experience sexual dating violence, and 22.2 percent experience electronic bullying—all at higher rates than boys in Utah.

Nationally, nearly one in three women experiences physical violence perpetrated by an intimate partner at some point in her lifetime, which mirrors the rates in Utah.  Native American women experience the highest lifetime prevalence of physical violence.  One-third of homicides are related to domestic violence, and in more than half of these, women are killed by guns.

Health & Well-Being, Reproductive Rights, and Violence & Safety are the latest in a series of releases from the Status of Women in the States: 2015report, which uses a variety of data sources to measure and tracks trends in women’s status over time. The report and additional data on millennial women, older women, and LGBT women are available on the website (www.statusofwomendata.org), along with detailed breakdowns by race/ethnicity.