August 17, 2012 — In passing drastic family planning cuts aimed at Planned Parenthood, Texas lawmakers also defunded many clinics that are not affiliated with the organization and do not offer abortion services, the Texas Observer reports.
According to a review of state records by the Observer, in the year since lawmakers reduced the state's family planning budget by two-thirds, 146 clinics that serve low-income women have lost state funding. The bulk of the affected clinics are located in the Texas Panhandle, Central Texas and along the Mexican border.
Of those clinics, more than 60 have closed, meaning that their patients must travel long distances to other providers or go without access to birth control and health screenings.
Lawmakers who supported the cuts said the goal was to cut off family planning funding to Planned Parenthood because the organization also provides abortion services. However, only 12 of the 60 clinics that have closed were affiliated with Planned Parenthood, the Observer reports.
Remaining Providers Struggle
Many of the remaining providers rely almost exclusively on Medicaid funding through the state's Women's Health Program, which is at the center of a dispute between the state and Planned Parenthood. In the fall, a federal court is expected to decide whether Texas can legally exclude Planned Parenthood from participating in the program. If the court rules in favor of Planned Parenthood, Texas officials have said they would rather end the program than allow Planned Parenthood to participate.
Meanwhile, federally qualified health centers have seen an influx of patients as more family planning clinics close. Lawmakers had argued that the centers would absorb patients who lost access to family planning clinics, but the centers also have faced budget cuts, and at least one has closed (Jones, Texas Observer, 8/15).