by Mary Tuma
After drastic budget cuts during the 2011 Legislative session, compounded with its exclusion from the Women’s Health Program, three Planned Parenthood clinics in rural Southeast Texas are slated to shut their doors. Clinics in Bryan, Huntsville and Lufkin will be forced to shutter come August, according to Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.
“In recent years, Texas politicians have created an increasingly hostile environment for providers of reproductive health care in underserved communities,” said Melaney A. Linton, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in a statement following the announcement. "[
] Deplorably, the combined impact of years of budget cuts to women's health care services and the dismantling of the successful Women's Health Program will take affordable, preventive health care options away from women [
"It is a travesty that Texas politicians are stripping healthcare from women across the state, harming lives and unraveling the health care safety net that has taken decades to build.”
Unsurprisingly, anti-abortion activists are gleefully celebrating the closures. Joe Pojman with Texas Alliance for Life said in a statement the legislative funding slashes are, “bearing fruit.”
“Shifting millions in tax dollars from Planned Parenthood to providers of comprehensive primary care is causing the abortion giant's empire to begin to crumble,” added Pojman.
But the point anti-abortion proponents fail to include in their celebratory statements is the totality of destruction. As the “empire” begins to fall, basic reproductive health services– like preventative, life-saving breast, cervical cancer, hypertension and HIV screenings, pap smears and STD testing and treatment– get buried under the rubble.
Lastly, of the three Texas clinics closing, only one provided abortion. Moreover, besides the fact PP’s abortion services overall only make up about 3 percent of their total services and the majority of care goes toward family planning health care offerings, no public funds are allowed to be directed toward abortion by law anyway. Those legislative budget cuts anti-abortion activists laud end up cutting services– like birth control– that help prevent unwanted pregnancies and ultimately, abortion.
While anti-abortion proponents try to rationalize their goals, ‘fiscal’ conservatives can chew on wasted dollars and lack-of-sense: Before Planned Parenthood got booted out of the Women’s Health Program by anti-choice Republicans, the program saved Texas more than $37.6 million in its first two years, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, leading the non-partisan Legislative Budget Board to recommend the Legislature expand the WHP as it would save the state $3.8 million in general revenue funds in 2012–13.
Instead, they kicked out the dominant provider, left a 90 percent share of federal funding behind for strictly political reasons and forced 50,000 low-income women to sever ties with their trusted health care center. (Did I already mention how NO public funds can go toward abortion in the first place?)
In a state where more than half of births are paid for by Medicaid, the inevitable increased financial burden falls on the taxpayer—anti-choice, pro-choice or apathetic. And with the expected looming closures of many of Texas’ abortion facilities as a result of recently passed anti-abortion legislation, the network is set to experience an even greater blow.
So, I guess if “bearing fruit” means bearing record rates of unwanted pregnancies, abortions and unprecedented Medicaid costs then sure, you’ve got yourself an endless orchard.