July 22, 2013 — Three Planned Parenthood facilities in Texas on Thursday announced they will close at the end of August, citing state cuts to family planning funds and a law barring Planned Parenthood from the state's Women's Health Program, the Texas Tribune reports (Luthra, Texas Tribune, 7/18).
The Texas Legislature in 2011 cut the state's family planning budget by two-thirds and blocked funding to Planned Parenthood and other women's health clinics affiliated with abortion providers (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/6). However, the Legislature has since restored the women's health funding for the 2014-2015 budget, along with an additional $63 million (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/28).
In the wake of the budget cuts, 56 of the 117 Texas family planning clinics that stopped receiving funding closed, according to University of Texas-Austin researchers who are conducting a three-year study to evaluate the effect of the cuts. An estimated 144,000 fewer women received health services and 30,000 more unintended pregnancies occurred in 2012 compared with 2010, the researchers found. In addition, the state's savings from related programs dropped by an estimated $163 million (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/6).
Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast operates the three closing clinics, which are located in Bryan, Huntsville and Lufkin. Only the Bryan facility offers abortion services, which were provided through Planned Parenthood Center for Choice because the state requires that family planning corporations be independent from abortion providers.
PPGC CEO Melaney Linton in a statement said that the closures are "a completely separate issue" from an omnibus antiabortion-rights measure (HB 2) that Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed into law on Thursday. She explained that the closures have "been a long time coming" and that the state's decision not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) was the "final straw."
Linton said the closures would force patients who otherwise are unable to afford family planning services to "go without the care they need." However, she noted that PPGC's other family planning clinics likely would remain open because they are located in more urban areas where patients "are able to pay out of pocket for their health care."
Meanwhile, John Seago -- legislative director for Texas Right to Life -- said women in the affected areas still will have access to health care because the "Legislature has more than restored the funding that was effective last session" (Texas Tribune, 7/18).