On Nov. 1, Texas will launch a new state-funded Women's Health Program banning any affiliates associated with abortion providers. In the ongoing anti-abortion hysteria, the state is revamping the program to ban Planned Parenthood as a health care provider solely because some of their clinics, which are not even part of the WHP, provide abortion services, and despite the fact that pregnant women do not even qualify for the WHP.
Gov. Rick Perry moved to take state control over the federal Medicaid-waiver program stating that because PP was a provider, the program was part of federal government’s “pro-abortion agenda.”
Texas already faces a dismal health care record with some of the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections in the United States and a large number—34 percent statewide and 66 percent in rural areas—of uninsured women of childbearing age as well as the third-lowest ranking in the country for primary care physicians per 100,000 residents.
Health care advocates are concerned that the lack of federal funds supporting the program—as $111 million in funding drops to $37.9 million—will result in less coverage to the over 1 million in need of reproductive health services statewide.
PP clinics provide cancer screenings and other reproductive health services to over half of the 130,000 women who access the WHP statewide. In a hollow reassurance, Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Kyle Janek is "confident" the state can find providers to replace Planned Parenthood clinics.
"[O]ne Planned Parenthood clinic saw over two and a half times the number of patients that 29 other clinics saw in one year. And that's just in Austin, where health clinics and doctors are numerous and easily accessible... " (RH Reality Check).
According to the Austinist.com, “Family planning clinics that still received funding faced budget cuts of up to 75 percent. While 25 family planning clinics closed, many existing clinics are now charging for previously free services, raising prices on some services, and restricting access to more expensive and effective methods of contraception such as intrauterine devices and subdermal implants.… Additionally, the poorest women who cannot pay are now being turned away from well-woman exams and denied birth control pills, while their visits would have previously been covered by public funds.”
In reality, the new WHP means women in Texas will have to jump through even more hoops to access care, and in many rural areas they will have no access due to lack of providers. A George Washington University study shows the lack of access to care under the new plan will result in more unwanted births and more taxpayer-funded Medicaid births, which translates into declining health and increased hardship for women and children.
And it does not end there. The bill ties the legislature’s hands by including what is called a "poison pill." If judges rule that the exclusion of Planned Parenthood is unconstitutional, then the WHP will be killed instead of being revised leaving many low-income women with no option for women's health services.Anti-choice advocates show once again that they are only "pro-life" until birth with a total disregard for the quality of life of the mother or the child beyond the womb, as they are the same forces slashing social services for the poor. The current attack on abortion rights is in reality an attack on women's overall quality of life, driving more women into poverty.
We cannot wait for the politicians to do it for us. It is up to us to make the change that is needed and defend our rights. What is necessary—and what has been the agent of change throughout history—is a mass movement to stand up for our rights.