The funds for Planned Parenthood North Texas started drying up in 2011. That was when the state cut $73 million from its family planning budget, and five clinics around the Dallas/Forth-Worth area closed.
This year hasn’t been any easier. In January, a change to the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s funding policies threw private dollars into jeopardy. Just two months later, more bad news: Texas would shutter a Medicaid program for low-income women in a dispute. On April 30, another $40 million will disappear.
“We may have to consider more clinic closures, that’s the point we’re at right now,” said Ken Lambrecht, chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood North Texas. His affiliate covers Texas’ largest metropolitan area, alongside a handful of more rural locations like Plano and Sherman, near the Texas/Oklahoma border.
Over the past two years, Planned Parenthood has seen both its private and public funding come under siege like never before. Nine states have, so far, passed laws that would defund the abortion provider from participating in reproductive health programs, providing services like breast exams and pap smears.
Nowhere in the country has this been more true than in Texas. Of the nine states that have defunded Planned Parenthood, eight are held up in legal challenges. Texas’ is the only to come into effect. Lambrecht and I spoke last week about what, exactly, it’s like to be a Planned Parenthood in Texas right now.
The reduced funding couldn’t come at a worse time, he said. Texas has the highest rate of uninsured; a quarter of its residents lack coverage. That number has grown during the economic downturn, as have the women Planned Parenthood sees.
“We’re very much figuring this out as we go,” Lambrecht said. “It’s problematic because these are women who live paycheck to paycheck. They’re earning about $150 a week and their gas tank is empty with $4 gas.”
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment