In the latest attack on Planned Parenthood in Texas, state health officials cut off funding to the organization’s HIV-prevention program on Monday. The Texas Department of State Health Services informed the Houston-based provider that it would not renew a nearly $600,000 a year contract.
“I don’t know who else is going to fill that gap, and I don’t know if anyone can, frankly,” Rochelle Tafolla, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, told the Texas Tribune.
Since 1988, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast has provided HIV-testing and counseling, condom distribution, and referral consultations to five counties in the Houston area. Although the funding comes from the Center for Disease Control, it’s allocation is managed on a state level.
Since 2014, the grant has been used to provide more than 138,000 HIV tests and helped to identify more than 1,000 people with HIV, according to the organization.
“Every time the state cuts these programs in an attempt to score political points…the true victims here are tens of thousands of women and men who no longer have access to health care that they need,” Tafolla said.
Texas officials’ decision to strip Planned Parenthood of funding for HIV-prevention is the latest in an onslaught of attacks on the organization. In October, officials booted the women’s health organization from the state’s Medicaid program, which is funded primarily by the federal government. In June, the organization was barred from participating in a state program to screen low-income women for breast and cervical cancer.
The attacks against Planned Parenthood in Texas intensified after the release of “undercover videos” which purportedly showed that the organization profited from harvesting fetal issue. The charge has been denied as “offensive and categorically untrue” by Cecile Richards, the head of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
The series of heavily-edited videos were released by The Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group, in July. Since then, dozens of states have launched investigations into Planned Parentood’s activities, and several have at defunded the organizations health care practices.
The Hyde Amendment, a decades-old federal policy, already prohibits federal dollars from paying for almost any abortion services. Moves by state officials like those in Texas to defund Planned Parenthood therefore affect the the organization’s other health services, which range from include providing STD tests and cancer screenings to many patients who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford that type of health care.