March 7, 2014 — In this week's video highlights, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and RH Reality Check's Andrea Grimes take an in-depth look at the women's health crisis in Texas' Rio Grande Valley, while Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards discusses the group's midterm election strategy.
MSNBC's Rachel Maddow presents an in-depth report on the women's health crisis in Texas' Rio Grande Valley, a remote four-county region along the Mexican border with some of the poorest cities in the U.S. Maddow explains that Texas lawmakers' 2011 cuts to funding for family planning and preventive services for low-income women closed more than one in four clinics in the Valley. Women's health services took another hit in 2013, when an omnibus antiabortion-rights bill (HB 2) forced many abortion providers in the Valley to stop practicing. Maddow's producers visit the Valley to speak with the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health's Paula Saldaña, who has been providing reproductive health education to women as a volunteer since the clinic where she worked closed (Maddow, "The Rachel Maddow Show," MSNBC, 2/28).
On Wednesday, Maddow broke news that two additional Texas clinics operated by Whole Women's Health will close, including the last clinic in the Valley (Maddow, "The Rachel Maddow Show," MSNBC, 3/5).
MSNBC's Ronan Farrow interviews Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards about the organization's decision to invest $18 million in midterm races in more than a dozen states where "women's rights are vulnerable." Richards said the group's involvement is necessary because "when women know where politicians stand on women's health issues in particular, they will make their voting decision based on that," such as in last fall's Virginia gubernatorial election. She said voters rely on Planned Parenthood "to tell them who's on their side" in fighting the "all-out assault on women's health care access" (Farrow, "Ronan Farrow Daily," MSNBC, 2/28).
In a special report for RH Reality Check, senior political reporter Andrea Grimes traveled to the Rio Grande Valley to examine the effects of HB 2 on clinics and women's access to services. According to Grimes, "access to safe, legal abortion care disappeared" in the Valley after the passage of HB 2 because the region's abortion providers could not comply with the law's requirements. Now, women must travel hundreds of miles to the nearest clinic for a legal abortion in Texas, passing interior border control checkpoints, although there are reports of women buying abortion pills in Mexico or local flea markets. Planned Parenthood of Hidalgo County CEO Patricio Gonzalez said that family planning funding cuts also have severely curtailed preventive care. The organization served more than 23,000 women in 2011, but with the "snap of a finger," lawmakers took away "a lot of prevention, wellness exams, pap smears, cancer screening [and] birth control" for women in need, he said (Grimes, RH Reality Check, 2/27).