As anti-choice lawmakers attempt to strip state and federal funding for Planned Parenthood branches across the country, a closer look at regional access to women’s health services reveals the devastating effects of hampering Planned Parenthood’s work.
Mother Jones notes that one county in Tennessee provides a case study for what happens when conservative politicians successfully defund Planned Parenthood clinics. After officials in Shelby County, TN stripped funding for Planned Parenthood and awarded it to a conservative religious clinic instead, the services provided to local women dropped by a staggering 93 percent:
Local officials decided that instead of giving that Title X money to Planned Parenthood for health screenings, STD tests, and birth control, they’d instead give it to Christ Community Health Services, a religious organization that refuses to provide abortions or refer women to others who would provide them. The organization also does not offer emergency contraception, and is reportedly looking to expand to create more “crisis pregnancy clinics” that offer “counselors who can discuss adoption and other life-affirming options” with women.
But it turns out that Christ Community Health Services has not been nearly as efficient at using Title X funds to provide family planning services, reports the Memphis Flyer (via Women’s Health News). Between July 2011 and June 2012, more than $500,000 of the $1.3 million grant the county received was not used at all. Hannah Sayle reports that Christ Community Health Services was averaging just 51 Title X visits per month in early 2012, compared to Planned Parenthood’s 841 visits in August 2011.
As women’s health advocates point out, case studies like these illustrate the consequences of diverting funding away from Planned Parenthood and expecting other health clinics to pick up the patient load. Some, like Christ Community Health Services, are certainly not equivalents to Planned Parenthood in terms of the family planning services they provide. Others, like the cash-strapped clinics across Texas that are being forced to close their doors, clearly don’t have enough resources to carry on the work that local Planned Parenthood chapters typically do. Using Planned Parenthood as a symbol in the ongoing War on Women has serious, disastrous results for the low-income women who do not have other options when it comes to their reproductive health care.