Public Hearing On Texas’ Cuts To Planned Parenthood Emphasizes Strain On Low-Income Women

For the past several months, Planned Parenthood has been embroiled in a legal battle with the state of Texas as the organization’s funding hangs in the balance. After Republicans officials in Texas cut off Planned Parenthood’s funding by making it ineligible for the state’s Medicaid-funded Women’s Health Program, a court sided with Texas to uphold the law targeting the organization. Women’s health advocates held a public hearing yesterday to speak on behalf of Planned Parenthood, emphasizing the court ruling’s blow to women across the state.

Although Texas Republicans have chosen to target Planned Parenthood in their crusade against abortion, saying the organization should be excluded from the state’s Women’s Health Fund because Medicaid funds shouldn’t go to abortion providers, the speakers at the hearing explained that Texas’ Planned Parenthood clinics actually provide critical preventative health services — not abortions — to low-income women:

State Rep. Donna Howard, an Austin Democrat, noted that abortion was a moot point since Women’s Health Program rules exclude women who are pregnant.

“None of the women’s health providers actually conduct abortions. That is not an issue here,” she told the hearing, “and I am concerned about the Legislature and leadership in this state actually holding women’s health care hostage to some political agenda.” […]

Randall Ellis of Legacy Community Health Services, which operates five clinics around Harris County, said Texas would be hurting a program that has proved effective. “We’re basically destroying the infrastructure that we have built up across the state to provide family planning services to women,” he said.

Excluding Planned Parenthood from the program leaves the organization without state or federal funds for their health programs, which provided cancer screenings and contraceptive services for low-income women. Speakers pointed to studies showing that, without adequate funding for Planned Parenthood clinics, other health clinics across the state would have to take on five times as many patients to provide Texas women with the same access to health care. However, attacks on Planned Parenthood have already forced at least 50 unaffiliated health clinics to close, leaving even fewer clinics to shoulder the increased burden.