For conservatives in Texas the campaign against Planned Parenthood isn’t just about trying to run the women’s health care provider out of business. It’s about trying to eradicate contraception from the state.
As the Texas Observer reports, in the year since Texas slashed family planning funding 146 clinics in total have lost state funds. Most of those clinics are clumped in the Panhandle, Central Texas and on the border with Mexico. More than 60 of those clinics have shut down permanently and the number of organizations that help poor women plan their pregnancies has been cut in half.
Of the more than 60 clinics that were forced to close, only 12 were run by Planned Parenthood.
Of course conservatives in Texas knew exactly what they were doing. From the Observer:
[I]n its 2011 session, the Texas Legislature cut the state’s family planning program by two-thirds. Public health experts warned lawmakers at the time that by defunding Texas’s family planning system, clinics would close and a spike in disease, pregnancies and abortions would follow. Regardless, they slashed the budget. Lawmakers were quite clear about their motivation: They hoped to drive abortion providers out of business. Their specific target—Planned Parenthood—also provides family planning and preventive health care to low income women. In their zeal to attack Planned Parenthood, politicians designed a funding formula that caused collateral damage. They defunded many other family planning clinics that aren’t connected to Planned Parenthood and don’t offer any abortion services.
It gets worse. The federally qualified health centers—which lawmakers said could provide family planning services to low-income women and make up for the cuts—have themselves experienced a funding crunch and are struggling to absorb demand. The result is that costs have shifted to patients, and exceptionally poor women now make hard choices about paying for their well-woman care. Some will find the cash, but an alarming number won’t. Indeed, the bipartisan Legislative Budget Board estimated that last year’s cuts would lead to more than 250,000 women losing services and 20,000 additional births covered by Medicaid.
That means in Texas women are expected to get their care from federally qualified health centers, whether they are geographically accessible or available or not. And with the newly designed Women’s Health Program funding requirements, those health centers that are there to fill in the gaps will offer only a portion of care women have a right to access.
These are dark days for the women in Texas and, thus, for women across the country.
Photo from brains the head via flickr.