Defunding Planned Parenthood In Oklahoma Will Force Some Low-Income Women To Forgo Care

Planned Parenthood clinic in Tulsa, OK

In the latest attack on Planned Parenthood and the essential health services it provides for women, the Oklahoma State Department of Health effectively cut off federal funding for the Planned Parenthood affiliates in their state by ending the organization’s WIC contract. Without the funds from the WIC program, which provides food vouchers for low-income mothers and their children, three Planned Parenthood clinics in the Tulsa area will be forced to close, leaving some low-income women without any other way to participate in the WIC program.

Tulsa World reports that some low-income mothers in the Tulsa area say they won’t continue to use WIC benefits if they can’t access them through the Planned Parenthood clinics they have been using for years:

Tiffany Rosales, the mother of three sons ranging in age from 11 months to 9 years, has been going to the same Planned Parenthood clinic for about 10 years.

Rosales called other local WIC clinics after hearing about the contract termination but said she found that it would be three to four months before she could get an appointment. She has decided she won’t go anywhere else to get WIC services and probably won’t be using the program anymore. […]

Shawna Benson said she also will try to forgo WIC services if she can no longer receive them at a Planned Parenthood clinic because she wouldn’t be comfortable anywhere else.

Benson can’t read, but the women at the Midtown Health Center WIC clinic would always help her with paperwork and make sure she understood documents. They did so without making her feel ashamed of her inability to read the papers on her own, she said.

She doesn’t think other clinics would operate the same way, she said.

Rosales also said that although she opposes abortion, Planned Parenthood clinics that administer the WIC program shouldn’t be caught up in political fights. “They shouldn’t put WIC through that,” she said. The Planned Parenthood clinics in Tulsa do not provide abortion services, although they do provide referrals for women seeking abortions.

Texas, which employed a similar tactic earlier this year to cut off Planned Parenthood’s funding for services to low-income women, could provide a model for what lies in store for Oklahoma women. With funding for family planning organizations under attack, over 50 women’s health clinics were forced to close across Texas — and in one county, defunding Planned Parenthood caused women’s services to drop by a staggering 93 percent.