Tens of thousands of low-income women could lose access to birth control and basic health care if the state of Texas moves ahead with a plan to eliminate Planned Parenthood from its Women's Health Program, according to a study (PDF) released Thursday by George Washington University.
Photo: Jana Birchum/ The Austin Chronicle. Local health care providers, including those not affiliated with Planned Parenthood, also expect the state action would lead to a significant increase in the number of unplanned pregnancies and taxpayer cost for childbirth in the state.
According to "Deteriorating Access to Women’s Health Services in Texas: Potential Effects of the Women’s Health Program Affiliate Rule," the additional pregnancies and taxpayer-funded births would disproportionately affect poorer, less urban areas.
In many poorer, rural areas of Texas, no alternatives to Planned Parenthood exist. Where alternatives are available, the study authors conclude, "There is no evidence that they are prepared to sustain the very large caseload increases that would be required to fill the gaps left after Planned Parenthood affiliates are excluded."
But existing clinics in the five-county area in question are already at or near capacity, and could not absorb the needs of more than 52,000 clients served in 2010 by Planned Parenthood, Chuck Lindell of the American-Statesman in Austin, Texas, reported.
According to the study, the Legislature cut family planning funding from $111 million to $38 million for 2012-2013, and has already forced health clinics to close, curtail hours or charge higher fees.
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