Women are getting significantly less health care services through Texas’ Women’s Health Program thanks to the state’s successful push to de-fund Planned Parenthood, the Austin Chronicle reports. After a year-long quest, Texas officials finally managed to de-fund Planned Parenthood at the beginning of 2013, blocking off federal funding for the Women’s Health Program and shuttering many of the state’s reproductive health clinics.
The Texas Women’s Health Program has processed only 77 percent of the total claims for family planning and reproductive health care in 2013 as it did during a comparable period last year, according to data from the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. The program helps hundreds of thousands of low-income Texan women afford medical services like pap smears, pregnancy tests, and STI screenings. Maddow Blog’s Steve Benen illustrated the decline in this chart:
CREDIT: Maddow Blog/Steve Benen
Texas officials were ostensibly trying to prevent women from using Planned Parenthood because of their opposition to its abortion services — even though abortions constitute just three percent of the care that Planned Parenthood provides and do not qualify for federal funding.
The cuts to family planning services have forced women’s health clinics, including those that are unaffiliated with Planned Parenthood, to close down in rural areas with a high number of poor women on Medicaid. As many as 200,000 low-income women in Texas have already lost or are expected to lose access to birth control, cancer screenings, and other critical preventative care thanks to the cuts.
Women’s health advocates aren’t particularly surprised that Texas and Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) anti-Planned Parenthood vendetta has resulted in less services for women. “To score political points, Perry dismantled this program and dictated where women could receive their exams and birth control,” said Sarah Wheat, vice president for community affairs for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, in an interview with the Austin Chronicle. “Texas women lost access to cancer screenings and annual exams, and the taxpayers lost federal funding and savings from this program – that is what happens when politics drives public health.”
Perry also recently signed legislation that bans women from receiving abortions after 20 weeks and could shutter 90 percent of the state’s abortion clinics.