Sixty Women’s Health Clinics Shuttered After Cuts

The state legislature slashed women's health funding by two thirds last session in an attempt to target Planned Parenthood. Now, a total of sixty clinics have closed, and only twelve of them were run by that organization. 
Sat August 18, 2012 1:57 am
AP Photo | The Abilene Reporter-News, Joy Lewis

The fallout from cuts to the state’s family planning budget continues. While state legislators had Planned Parenthood in their sights when they slashed the budget by two-thirds, some sixty women’s health clinics have closed permanently as a result, Carolyn Jones reports in the Texas Observer. And Planned Parenthood only operated twelve of the clinics that closed.

“In hoping to punish Planned Parenthood, politicians handicapped other providers and in so doing, left a safety net for 220,000 women in tatters. By politicizing women’s health, state lawmakers are risking a public health crisis,” Jones wrote.

Jones distilled the impact of the array of cuts this way:

Under this new bare-bones regime, women are expected to go to federally qualified health centers, whether they are geographically accessible or not. Those health centers, battling to see more patients on less money, will be forced to underwrite their care with Women’s Health Program funds, other state and federal pots, and from private donations. Providers will also shift costs to patients. This gloomy scenario might work if three assumptions about poor women are true: that they are mobile, that they qualify for services under the Women’s Health Program (if it’s still around) and they can afford to share the cost of contraception.

The federally funded health clinics now have to serve a wider base, a classic example of “doing more with less.” And they have raised prices to keep their doors open. “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,” Jones wrote.

Mimi Swartz broke down some of the increased costs women are facing in her August 2012 TEXAS MONTHLY cover story

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