Texas' Attack on Planned Parenthood Leaves Women's Health in Its Wake
Article by UT researchers paints grim picture
By Jordan Smith, 4:43PM, Wed. Sep. 26, 2012
Texas lawmakers intended to defund Planned Parenthood when they slashed the state's budget for family planning last year, but the drastic cuts have also resulted in closed clinics and a reduction in women's access to care, according to a report published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The article is based on the work of the Texas Policy Evaluation Project in UT's Population Research Center, which is conducting a three-year investigation into the effects of cuts on women's health in the state. As part of that work, researchers interviewed the leaders of 56 family planning providers across the state who received public money prior to the budget cuts. Based on those interviews, the authors say that several effects of the cuts have emerged. Reduced funding has restricted access to the most effective forms of birth control – in part because clinics that have lost government funding have also lost access to a bulk pricing benefit. As a result, women are purchasing fewer contraceptives per visit, which can result in lower contraceptive "continuation rates" and to an increase in unplanned pregnancy, reads the article.
According to the article, the 2011 funding cuts have resulted in 53 clinic closures across the state – not only PP clinics – and to reduced operating hours at 38 other clinics. "We are witnessing the dismantling of a safety net that took decades to build and could not easily be recreated even if funding were restored soon," the authors write.
Additionally, the cost of a well-woman check has increased since the cuts and closures, and these preventative health exams "remain out of reach for some of the poorest women," the article reports. And as costs increase, women are opting to forgo some testing, including for sexually-transmitted infections, in order to save money. "For demographically and socioeconomically similar states, Texas's experience may be a harbinger of the broader impact of eliminating public funding for family planning," reads the article. "Time will reveal the full effects of these budget cuts on the rates of unintended pregnancies and induced abortions and on state and federal health care costs," it concludes. "Already, the legislation has created circumstances that force clinics and women in Texas to make sacrifices that jeopardize reproductive health and well-being."
Find more on state funding cuts for family planning here.