Blocking Planned Parenthood Affects the Rural and Poor
Starting in November, Texas will exclude Planned Parenthood and other clinics connected to abortion providers from its Medicaid-affiliated Women’s Health Program. A new study says this will mean more unintended pregnancies for low-income women.
The study says that in some rural counties, up to 84 percent of women served by this program are served by clinics that will be excluded come November. The study (PDF) was published by George Washington University and led by Texas native Leighton Ku. Ku says his team interviewed state-accepted clinics that would have to see the women now going to the newly excluded clinics.
“They might have to serve two to five times as many more clients,” Ku said. “In general, what the clinics told us was that in many cases, though they wanted to be able to serve additional patients, they really didn’t have the capacity.”
And there’s another problem: Not only will there not be enough clinics, there may not be enough money either, because the federal government is pulling funding for the program.
But nothing’s been cut yet, and the state is suing to try to keep the funding.
“We feel like we are really within the state’s rights, if you look at other court cases, to exclude this type of provider from our program,” said Stephanie Goodman at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
State officials have already found money to replace the federal funding. But finding doctors could still be a problem. Goodman says the state has found, on average, five clinics to replace every one it closes, But Ku says these new clinics are typically smaller than the ones that are being excluded. And that’s just not enough capacity in some places.