Where Do Women Turn When Planned Parenthood Is Gone?

When conservatives made the big push to defund Planned Parenthood, they swore the issue was not about denying women health care services, but about protecting taxpayer dollars from waste. Two recent reports from the front lines of the Planned Parenthood battle show otherwise.

As Kate Sheppard reports, when officials in Shelby County, Tennessee took nearly $400,000 in state funding from the local Planned Parenthood, the Obama administration had to step in and fund the clinic directly. But instead of funding Planned Parenthood, originally local leaders directed that money to a religious organization that provides some women’s health care services. Needless to say, the taxpayer dollars were not well used.

Between July 2011 and June 2012, more than $500,000 of the $1.3 million grant the county received was not used at all. Hannah Sayle reports that Christ Community Health Services was averaging just 51 Title X visits per month in early 2012, compared to Planned Parenthood’s 841 visits in August 2011.

Amazing. When an organization isn’t interested in providing family planning services, women eventually have to turn elsewhere for that care. As Sheppard reports, the number of Title X visits in the state didn’t go down, but they did in Shelby County, meaning women had to travel outside of the county to get the care they need. The demand for health care didn’t go down, it just became less accessible.

The same is true in Texas where reporter Andrea Grimes chronicled her efforts trying to find a health care provider under the state’s Women’s Health Program for a well-woman visit. Even in a major metropolitan area like Austin, Texas trying to find a clinic to provide low-income, quality reproductive health care now that the state has excluded Planned Parenthood from its funding regime is practically impossible. In one instance, Texas officials listed a colonscopy clinic as one of the places a woman could go for a pap smear. When Grimes called to try and schedule an appointment and inquire about the services, clinic workers were understandably confused.

We can expect similar stories out of states like Ohio and Arizona as more and more hard-right legislatures set their sights on family planning services. And as these case studies develop, we are learning what we already knew: making health care services inaccessible won’t make the need for those services go away. Instead, it makes women go to greater expense and hardship to simply take care of their bodies. And when it’s too much, women will simply skip visits. In the case of well-women visits, that means a missed cancer screen. For some women, well-visits are the only time they visit a doctor absent an emergency, so that means fewer checks for other chronic conditions.

The inevitable conclusion to these developments is of course an increasingly segregated and discriminatory method of delivering health care to women. The Ann Romneys of the world will always have access to the health care they want and they need. But working women will not. This isn’t hypothetical, it’s happening.

Related Stories:

Pennsylvania Joins Rush to Defund Planned Parenthood

Ohio GOP Move to Strip Planned Parenthood of Funds

Arizona Moves to Defund Planned Parenthood

Photo from zubrow via flickr.


Evelyn M.
Evelyn M.4 years ago

Great post as usual my friend Gene. this has to suffice as your green star

Evelyn M.
Evelyn M.4 years ago

Sara H, some Dr. will, not all

Evelyn M.
Evelyn M.4 years ago

Well said Erica. Can't send green star so this is it.

Erica B.
Erica B.4 years ago

Karen H said: "Is that the Republican plan? Kill off the women?"

No, Karen. The Republican plan is to just kill off all the SMART women. The women that actually USE the services of Planned Parenthood, like getting PAP smears, breast exams, education for contraception as well as to be supplied contraception, prevention and treatment of STD's, well-woman exams including blood pressure check, pregnancy exams, well-baby exams, and yes...abortion education and services (which only accounts for 3 % of their services).

Charli S.
Charlotte S.4 years ago

They die. We need to vote these idiots out of office and we need to stop allowing a minority to dictate to the majority.

jennifer curtis
jennifer curtis4 years ago

i think we should fund planned parenthood. if we do that then maybe it will cut down on teen pregnanices

Lee Witton
4 years ago

correction....lymph nodes in the armpit area.

Lee Witton
4 years ago

Sarah - first of all, breast cancer screenings are performed at PPFA and they will refer a patient who may have any abnormalities of the breast or lymph areas in the armpit area. Those patients are referred to clinics that perform mammograms and most low-income women don't pay for those mammograms. PPFA is still the best place to go for breast and gynecological exams. Remember, PPFA has been providing womens care exams for 97 years and they 'get it' when it comes to 'womens' health.

Lee Witton
4 years ago

Tammy - the ill conceived notion that voting a 3rd party is going to help our country out of the mess Dubya left her in, and for the past 2 years the "hell NO" party has been determined to keep America in, is just that; "ill conceived." This is not the year to be voting a 3rd party candidate unless you are a TBR and know there is no chance in hell of that candidate winning, but want only hurt to Obama's re-election chances. So don't listen to Tammy because Tammy doesn't have the bigger picture in mind, only another repeat of what happened when Nader ran vs. Al Gore. We know how that election in 2000 turned out, and it boded very well for the abysmal failure as a leader, George W.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill4 years ago

Well, considering that they don't perform mammograms, then women should actually go to a doctor for their health care. Someone who has gone to medical school for gynecology. I don't have insurance either. When doctors find out you don't have insurance they will work with you, Most will discount their fees.