Anti-choice bluster has given way to actual legislation, and guess who's paying the price? Low-income women, and any woman who would have sought care at the fourteen Planned Parenthood clinics that are closed or have been furloughed in Indiana and Minnesota. And more states are likely to follow.
None of the six clinics closing in Minnesota even performed abortions, but they're closing due to cuts in Title X family planning funds in the federal budget signed off upon by President Obama.
In Indiana, the fact that some Planned Parenthood clinics perform this legal service has been reason enough to deny them Medicaid funds for non-abortion services like testing for sexually transmitted diseases, cervical cancer screening, and contraceptive services. The federal government has warned Indiana that it's breaking the law, and that law has gone into effect for the time being.
In addition to losing its access to Medicaid funds, Planned Parenthood in Indiana also was stripped of a state tax credit benefit for its outside donors, thanks to the state agency's interpretation of Indiana's new defunding law.
Initially, it looked like that meant Indiana would have to close seven clinics, but thanks to donations, the local president said they would instead close for a short period and then reopen until the July 1 decision by a judge on whether to halt enforcement while Planned Parenthood and the ACLU sue Indiana. Still, Planned Parenthood has had to lay off two of its three STI specialists. And the 9,300 Medicaid patients the organization treats in Indiana will have the added burden of seeking this basic medical care.
Other states are racing to follow. North Carolina and Kansas already passed similar measures, though unlike Indiana, they restricted the defunding to state Medicaid funds and allowed federal funds to remain. Late last week, Wisconsin's state legislature adopted a budget that defunds Planned Parenthood.
In Tennessee, anti-abortion activists scored a partial victory: They got the law changed to divert Title X funds to the country, unless the county said it couldn't handle it. And then the two most populous counties, encompassing Nashville and Memphis, said they couldn't do what Planned Parenthood had:
Shelby County Health Department Director Yvonne Madlock wrote state Health Commissioner Susan Cooper on April 8 that Shelby is "not in a position" to take over the services provided by Planned Parenthood...Madlock said at that time that the county could take over the entire 10,000-plus caseload – including those served by Planned Parenthood – but it would take more than the full $1.35 million allocated to Shelby and six to 12 months "to develop the infrastructure, staff and systems necessary to double the family planning patient caseload."
In North Carolina, where lawmakers who succeeded in defunding Planned Parenthood similarly claimed that county health departments could replace its women's health services, the organization is contemplating litigation. But a state Planned Parenthood official told Reuters that "the waiting time for some screenings at those facilities already totals 12 to 14 weeks, and the counties do not pay for things like intrauterine devices that cost $750 each."
We're sure that anti-choice activists will do something that shows their sincere concern for women's health as opposed to their current two-step plan of controlling their uteruses and denying care for reproductive health. Or perhaps something that would actually prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortions, like adequate access to effective contraception like the IUD. Right?
Wisconsin To Defund Planned Parenthood [The Hill]
Planned Parenthood Taking Furlough To Save Money [Courier Press]
Budget Cuts Close 6 Planned Parenthood Clinics In Minnesota [Star Tribune]
Planned Parenthood Stops Treating Medicaid Clients [Indy Star]