When Texas intentionally dismantled its women’s health program by refusing to fund Planned Parenthood — the largest women’s health group in the country — the state was essentially telling poor women they would need to find new doctors. Thousands of Texan women are now searching for a new provider, but the state is doing a predictably terrible job of helping them find one.
In fact, the list of doctors provided by the state is so flawed that it may make it harder, not easier, for women to seek care. Texas officials launched a new website to help women find new providers, but the Waco Tribune-Herald “found many of the doctors aren’t actually participating or won’t take new patients through the program.” And that was only one of the many problems they uncovered with the state’s list:
For example, Waco Cardiology Associates is included on the list. But an official at the heart doctors’ office said they obviously are not participants in the program. The program’s key services include contraceptives, cervical cancer screenings and sexually transmitted disease screening and treatment, none of which are offered at Waco Cardiology Associates.
The list generated by the state’s website also includes a handful of emergency medicine physicians from Waco’s two hospitals.
Although such doctors theoretically could handle family planning needs, neither hospital wants to encourage women to seek that type of care in an expensive emergency setting.The list also includes a few physicians who either no longer work in Waco or who have changed specialties. For example, one physician who used to practice family medicine is on the list, even though she now only does wound care work.
Linda Edwards Gockel, a spokeswoman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, said the state will work to correct errors on the list.
This follows Texas’ officials generally ignorant line of thinking regarding women’s health. As Gov. Rick Perry (R) has championed defunding Planned Parenthood clinics, he’s suggested that women seek care at crisis pregnancy centers, right-wing anti-abortion organizations that don’t actually provide health services.
Unfortunately, the fact that many doctors’ offices are already too full with patients to take on additional women in the program was a predicted outcome. With Planned Parenthood not an option, and other clinics forced to close thanks to budget cuts to family planning services, providers in the state have taken on an estimated five times the number of their regular patient load.