The Oklahoma State Department of Heath has just announced that it will end its WIC contract with the state’s Planned Parenthood affiliates, effectively cutting off the federal funding that the organization’s clinics rely on to provide health services to low-income women.
The WIC program — which uses federal funds to provide food vouchers to low-income pregnant women, mothers, and young children — has been in partnership with three out of the four Tulsa-area Planned Parenthood clinics for the past 18 years, and the dissolution of the contract may force those clinics to close.The state’s Department of Health did not give a reason for the contract’s termination, saying only that it will not be renewed for “business reasons.”
Jill June, the president of Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa, told the Tulsa World that she believes the decision to end WIC funding to her organization was politically motivated, as anti-choice legislators across the country work to target Planned Parenthood affiliates as a central tactic in their ongoing War on Women:
“We’re going to do whatever we can to preserve our ability to continue to serve these women and children, because we know that’s what they want and we know that we are a very good provider,” [June] said.
The clinics in the Tulsa area have about 3,000 WIC visits a month, a spokesman said. [...]
“I think we deserve some answers, but, more importantly, the women who come to Planned Parenthood, they shouldn’t be caught up in what I fear is a political attack,” June said.
Oklahoma appears to be following in the footsteps of the state of Texas, which cut off funds to Planned Parenthood’s clinics by making the organization ineligible for the Medicaid funding that helps the organization provide services to low-income women. Just as in Texas, Oklahoma’s Planned Parenthood facilities do not actually perform abortions — in fact, they provide critical preventative care like cancer screening and contraceptive services to low-income women who would otherwise be unable to afford that type of care. Politically-motivated attacks on women’s health have already forced at least 50 health clinics in Texas to close, painting a bleak picture of what could be in store for the women living in Oklahoma.