War Against Women’s Health Care Strikes Close to Home
A combination of steep cuts to women’s health care and an impasse over federal Title X funds threatens to leave some 400,000 low income Texas women without access to cancer screenings and contraceptives.
Planned Parenthood clinics around Texas have been shuttered, thanks to the Texas Legislature’s huge cuts to women’s health care. And more shutdowns loom, as Texas and federal officials have reached an impasse over $35 million in Title X funds that pay for cancer screenings, wellness exams, and birth control for some 130,000 low income women, according to a piece written by the New York Times‘ Pam Belluck and the Texas Tribune‘s Emily Ramshaw.
Belluck and Ramshaw unpacked the fight over federal funds this way:
Texas signed regulations prohibiting clinics affiliated with groups that provide abortions from receiving funds, even though the clinics do not perform abortions themselves. The federal government says excluding qualified providers in this way is illegal, requiring it to withhold $35 million — about 90 percent of the program’s financing — if the regulations, which take effect on Wednesday, are not rescinded.
Last session, the Lege slashed its two-year family planning budget from $111 million to $38 million. Those cuts are estimated to end services for 284,000 women. If the Women’s Health Program ends, the number of women without access to women’s health care in Texas would jump to 400,000. The cuts have already forced Planned Parenthood of Hidalgo County to shutter half of its eight clinics, and the waiting list to get into the remaining clinics is weeks-long, according to the Times story.
The cuts have even inspired anger in on both sides of the aisle: Democratic state representative Jessica Farrar penned an incensed op-ed for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times on Texas’s “war on women,” and one Republican legislative aide has resigned in anger over the draconian cuts that her boss, Denton representative Myra Crowover, signed off on, according to the Austin Chronicle‘s Jordan Smith reported.
On Thursday, Governor Rick Perry addressed the issue head-on, saying the state can come up with the $35 million to fund its Women’s Health Program on its own, the Austin American-Statesman‘s Chuck Lindell reported. “We’re going to fund this program,” Perry said. “We’ll find the money.”
This fight against Planned Parenthood in Texas is just one prong of the assault the women’s health organization faces across the country. “I don’t think anybody is against providing health care for women. What we’re opposed to are abortions,” Republican state representative Wayne Christian told the Times. “Planned Parenthood is the main organization that does abortions. So we kind of blend being anti-abortion with being anti-Planned Parenthood.”
But, that approach is not necessarily an effective one: a story in Newsweek pointed out that Planned Parenthood clinics that actually provide abortions have been unaffected by the cuts:
One of the ironies of Texas’s anti–Planned Parenthood campaign is that while opposition to abortion sparked it, it leaves abortion clinics unscathed. There are 14 Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas that offer abortion and 51 that provide other sexual-health services. To avoid any commingling of funds, they are run as entirely separate corporations. Because the abortion clinics receive no public money, they’ve been unaffected by the state’s funding cutbacks. Women’s access to other services, though, has been seriously impaired. In Waco, Planned Parenthood’s reproductive-health clinic has gone from three full-time nurse practitioners to one, with another working a third of the time. This year, the clinic is only able to see half the patients it saw last year.