Now that the omnibus anti-abortion bill has been passed and signed, the Republicans can quit pretending to care about the state of health care access for women in Texas as before.
Three Planned Parenthood family planning clinics in Southeast Texas announced plans Thursday to close at the end of August. The closures result from reduced family planning funds and the removal of Planned Parenthood from the state Women’s Health Program, said Melaney Linton, CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.
While the closures were announced the same day as Gov. Rick Perry’s signing of omnibus abortion legislation, House Bill 2, the closures are “a completely separate issue” from that new law, Linton said.
Linton said many patients who visit the three clinics cannot afford to pay for services and therefore would “go without the care they need.” She said the decision by the state not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act was “the final straw” that rendered the clinics unable to serve patients.
“This has been a long time coming,” she said.
But John Seago, legislative director for Texas Right to Life, said he believes women in that region will still have access to health programs, noting the recent legislative move to restore funds to participants in the Women’s Health Program.
In the 2013 session, the Legislature voted to add $71 million to the program.
“The Legislature has more than restored the funding that was effective last session,” Seago said.
It’s certainly good that the Legislature restored funding for the WHP after it was decimated in 2011, but the damage has already been done. Some sixty clinics closed their doors statewide after the 2011 budget cuts. and the number of clinics funded by the Texas Department of State Health Services dropped from 300 to 136 in the year following those cuts. If you burn my house down, then build me another two years later, you can claim you’ve made me whole but I was still homeless in the interim. Even if you could credibly claim that there are now as many clinics that provide health care and family planning services for women as there were in 2011 – I have no idea if this is true, and neither does John Seago; what’s more, I’m sure he doesn’t care – the fact remains that hundreds of thousands of Texas women had their health care disrupted. Even if every single one of these women now has a clinic that’s as close to them and as convenient for them and as affordable for them that they’re aware of and comfortable visiting, it still wasn’t their choice to make that change. It was done to them by Rick Perry, David Dewhurst, Greg Abbott, and the Republican friends of people like John Seago in the Texas Legislature. What was done can be ameliorated but it can never be undone. PDiddie has more.