CREDIT: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
A Planned Parenthood clinic in Kansas is being forced to close because it can’t afford to remain open now that the state has stripped federal family planning money from the women’s health organization. Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri announced on Friday that it’s choosing to close its location in Hays, located in Ellis County, so that it can keep operating its larger facility in Wichita.
In March, a federal appeals court agreed to let Kansas proceed with its plan to defund Planned Parenthood, a goal that social conservatives in the state have been working toward for years. Before that ruling, the two Planned Parenthood clinics in Kansas used Title X funds to provide birth control services to over 9,000 women, as well as 8,000 STD tests. But now, Ellis County will be left without a single Title X provider.
The Title X program is a crucial safety net for low-income women who cannot otherwise afford preventative health care. Even Republicans acknowledge that it’s a cost-effective program for preventing unintended pregnancies, which ultimately saves the government money. Nonetheless, this type of funding has been jeopardized by partisan crusades against abortion, as anti-choice lawmakers have attempted to target Planned Parenthood at any cost. This approach is particularly ironic considering the fact that Title X funds are already prohibited from going toward abortion.
According to court documents, Planned Parenthood’s two Kansas clinics were already operating at a loss even before they lost out on $330,000 in annual Title X funding. The nonprofit group can no longer offer no-cost preventative services, like free birth control pills, to patients who come to the Wichita clinic. The only reason it’s able to continue providing affordable services is because there have been generous community donations to keep the clinic going.
“We’re still here for our patients, and we are fighting every day to maintain, restore, or expand access to health care in Kansas despite all the obstacles in our path,” the interim CEO of the Planned Parenthood affiliate, Ron Ellifrits, said in a written statement. “The generous support of private individuals across the state, as well as the difficult decision to close our health center in Hays, will allow Planned Parenthood to continue providing services for as many Kansas women and men as possible while Kansas lawmakers continue to play politics with women’s health.”
The only other state that’s successfully defunded Planned Parenthood is Texas, which recently relaunched a new family planning program using solely state funds, specifically for the purpose of excluding the women’s health organization. That move has been catastrophic, particularly since Planned Parenthood used to be the biggest family planning provider for impoverished women in the Lone Star State.