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Kansas' Move To Defund Planned Parenthood Curbs Health Care Access for Low-Income Residents

Kansas' Move To Defund Planned Parenthood Curbs Health Care Access for Low-Income Residents

August 24, 2015 — Many health care services for low-income residents in Kansas have been cut following the state's move to defund Planned Parenthood, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Background

According to the AP/Chronicle, the news comes as several states move to defund the organization following the release of a series of videos targeting Planned Parenthood (Hegeman, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 8/21).

The videos, which depict Planned Parenthood staff discussing fetal tissue donation, were released by an antiabortion-rights group called the Center for Medical Progress. CMP secretly filmed the videos by meeting with Planned Parenthood staff while posing as buyers of fetal tissue.

Planned Parenthood has stated that the videos were heavily edited and that the filmed officials did not conduct any illegal activities. The organization said it does not profit from fetal tissue donations and only receives reimbursement for costs associated with such donations, which is legal. Meanwhile, supporters of Planned Parenthood said the videos are part of a decades-long campaign against the organization (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/13).

Elizabeth Nash, state issues associate at the Guttmacher Institute, said at least eight states -- Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Utah and Wisconsin -- have taken legislative action to cut funding for the organization following the release of the misleading videos. She added that 11 states between 2011 and this July already have acted to reduce Planned Parenthood funding (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 8/21).

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has warned that efforts to block Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funds could violate federal law (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/13).

Ramifications in Kansas

Kansas lawmakers in 2011 passed a measure that gave federal funding first to public health departments and hospitals, effectively eliminating funding for specialized family planning clinics. The state said it could provide better reproductive health care by giving Title X funding to facilities that offer a broader range of care and that it would use the Planned Parenthood funding at other facilities and provide the same services.

However, after the move, Kansas officials acknowledged that federal funding had been cut by the amount previously allocated for Planned Parenthood, meaning that there "was no additional funding to give to other clinics." For example, the state lost $370,000 in annual Title X funding that had gone to two Planned Parenthood clinics and an unaffiliated clinic located in Dodge City, none of which had been used for abortion services. According to the AP/Chronicle, the two Planned Parenthood clinics -- located in Wichita and Hays -- had provided 9,000 contraception visits, 3,000 Pap tests, 3,000 breast exams and 18,000 tests for sexually transmitted infections before they lost their portion of the funding.

The unaffiliated clinic has closed, and Planned Parenthood in May 2014 said it would close the clinic in Hays, the smaller of the two facilities, to focus on the larger facility in Wichita. According to Planned Parenthood, the Wichita clinic now is reporting fewer patients, particularly patients who rely on Title X funding for reproductive health care and cancer screenings.

Further, according to an Associated Press investigation into KDHE distributions over the last three years, the state has reduced the share of federal family planning funding for the health department in Sedgwick County, where the Wichita Planned Parenthood is located. Specifically, the Sedgwick County Health Department is projected to receive $167,790 in federal family planning funding in fiscal 2016, down from $276,900 in fiscal year 2014. Meanwhile, the Wichita Planned Parenthood clinic is unable to provide the no-cost contraceptives and other medical services it previously could afford to offer.

In addition, family planning clinics closed in Ford and Ellis counties over a year ago, and the counties still do not have a Title X provider for low-income patients.

Comments

Elise Higgins, manager of government affairs for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said, "We have a number of women in Kansas who need publically funded contraception and services, but aren't receiving it."

Similarly, J'Vonnah Maryman, director for public health at the SCHD, said, "People have fewer places to go, and for those with limited means that may make utilizing those services even more difficult" (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 8/21).