NIH Spends $280K to Empower Women to Make Contraceptive Choices--in Jail

By Melanie Arter | August 12, 2014 | 12:44pm EDT

In this Dec. 10, 2013 photo Tyniehsa Stephens visits with cellmates in a new unit in the Harris County Jail for gay, bisexual and transgender prisoners in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

( – The federal government spent $279,789 in taxpayer funds “to improve contraceptive use for incarcerated women” who are soon to be released from jail.

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, a division of the National Institutes of Health, awarded to the grant to the Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island.

Women with a history of incarceration are at “increased risk” for unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) “given the high rates of substance abuse and commercial sex work in this population,” once they are released from prison, according to the grant.

“Highly effective (less than 2% annual failure rate with typical use) reversible contraceptive methods are readily available through Title X clinics,” the grant said.

“The Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RI DOC) has actively participated in the implementation and evaluation of a Title X program which provides contraceptive services to incarcerated women as well as transitional reproductive health services from the jail to the community,” it said. “However, service utilization remains sub-optimal.”

“This application is designed to evaluate an innovative intervention Motivational Interviewing with Computer Assistance (MICA) designed to improve contraceptive use for incarcerated women who do not want a pregnancy and are soon to be released into the community,” the grant said.

The project will involve recruiting 400 women from RI DOC women’s jail “and randomize them to two interventions: three sessions of personalized MICA or three sessions of Didactic Educational Counseling (DEC), both delivered individually by trained counselors.”

The project started on June 1, 2008 and ended on May 31, 2014. However, the budget start date was listed as June 1, 2012 with an end date of May 31, 2014. attempted to contact Jennifer Grace Clarke, project leader for the grant, for comment, but Clarke did not respond by press time.

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