Thousands Of Women Forced To Find New Doctors Now That Texas Has Defunded Planned Parenthood

After anti-choice Texas officials spent most of 2012 attempting to defund their state’s Planned Parenthood clinics, they finally succeeded. On January 1, Texas launched its new state-run Women’s Health Program — a network of health care organizations that provide preventative care and family planning to low-income women — without Planned Parenthood.

Since the national women’s health organization used to be the single biggest provider in the program, serving nearly half of the state’s 110,000 low-income women who rely on Medicaid, Texas’ decision to exclude Planned Parenthood will force thousands of women to look for a new doctor in the new year.

And as a local CBS affiliate reports, women like Rotunda McDowell — whose college-aged daughter has been told she can no longer receive the free care at Planned Parenthood clinics that she used to rely on — are confused about what Texas officials’ politicized decision to target Planned Parenthood means for their health care:

“We have so many things we have to deal with–breast cancer, cervical cancer–we have to stay healthy,” says McDowell. “If you don’t have insurance and the money and the means to get the care that you need, what choice do you have, other than do without?” […]

Still, agency officials say they will not turn clients away who cannot afford to pay, concerned that inconvenienced women will skip life-saving exams rather than search for new doctors.

“It’s a big concern,” says [Planned Parenthood spokesperson] Kelly Hart. “We know that there are not enough providers to make up for the approximately 50,000 patients a year that were seen in Planned Parenthood health centers.”

Hart explained that Planned Parenthood employees are doing everything in their power to make sure their former patients can continue accessing care at their clinics, including using patient assistance funds to cover the difference between what their services cost without insurance coverage and what low-income patients can afford to pay.

And they’re not giving up on the complicated legal battle between Texas and Planned Parenthood. The organization filed for an injunction to force the state to include them in the newly launched Women’s Heath Program, and the court hearing is scheduled for next week.