If you are a low income woman in need of health screenings and birth control, you might want to steer clear of Texas. As part of Governor Rick Perry’s “Initiatives to Protect Life,” health clinics that are affiliated with abortion providers will no longer receive any federal or state funding to provide health care services of any kind, including cancer screenings, birth control, or STI testing. Apparently, when Perry states that these initiatives are being put in place to protect life, he is not including women in that group, because if low income women are denied access to cancer screenings as a result of this initiative, that is not protecting their lives. In fact, that is putting their lives in danger.
Through 2012, the Women’s Health Program in Texas received 90 percent of its funding from the federal Medicaid Women’s Health Program. However, when the decision was made in Texas to deny such funding to health clinics that are affiliated with abortion providers–even though there is already a law in place that prevents any federal funding of abortion–Texas lost its right to all federal funding. Instead, the state decided to fund its own women’s health program; however, it will not provide any state funds to clinics affiliated with abortion providers. As a result, Planned Parenthood has effectively been defunded (ABC News).
According to Governor Perry, “The ideal world is a world without abortion. Until then, however, we will continue to pass laws to ensure abortions are as rare as possible under existing law” (ABC News). Not everyone in Texas agrees with his stance. Regina Rogoff, Executive Director of the People’s Community Clinic, an independent health clinic, believes the state legislators are misinformed: “The ignorance, I think, that is so rampant among the legislative community is mind boggling. It seems very skewed, the idea that every woman going in there is getting an abortion. That’s not what it’s about at all” (ABC News).
In fact, according to Planned Parenthood’s annual report, it provided 333,964 abortions in 2011, amounting to 3 percent of the services the organization offered nationwide that year. During that same time frame, the organization saw 4.5 million people for STI testing and treatment, 3.4 million people for contraception services, 1.3 million for cancer screening and prevention, and 1.2 million women for pregnancy tests and prenatal care (Planned Parenthood).
While the new law has now gone into effect, a full hearing is scheduled for tomorrow before a U.S. District Judge, who will decide whether or not to grant Planned Parenthood a temporary injunction. If that injunction is not granted, women in Texas will be left without adequate access to necessary health testing and services. And if low income women are denied these services, the state of Texas will have to cope with additional unintended pregnancies and cancer diagnoses. That will certainly be costly in terms of both lives and money.