Imagine if guns were regulated in this country in the same way as a woman’s right to choose.
Roughly 87 percent of counties in the United States do not have even one abortion provider. Three states have just one provider. On Thursday, the Republican governor of Mississippi said of his state’s one clinic, “My goal of course is to shut it down.”
Imagine if we were talking about a state closing down its one remaining gun store. Then the outrage of the gun lobby would make sense. Instead, in the name of “life,” guns are available everywhere and nine states have tried to defund Planned Parenthood because a tiny fraction of its resources is used to help women seek legal abortions.
In Texas, Planned Parenthood is legally divided into two separate institutions — one that provides general women’s health care and one that provides abortions.
For years, health care organizations worked with the state through the Women’s Health Program to provide basic health care and family planning services for about 65,000 women, receiving 90 percent of their funding from the federal government. But the legal distinction wasn’t good enough for Governor Rick Perry and Texas Republicans.
They said that the health care arm of Planned Parenthood was an affiliate of the abortion providers and thus had the organization excluded from the Women’s Health Care Program by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. As courts have prevented states from excluding Planned Parenthood in the past, the HHSC wrote into the regulation that if the courts forced the state to include Planned Parenthood in the Women’s Health Program, the program would be dissolved.
On January 1, 2013, the reformed Women’s Health Program launched without Planned Parenthood and $200 million in federal funds.
What does that mean for female Texans?
“The costs are stark,” writes The New Republic‘s Molly Redden:
One quarter of Texas women are uninsured, and the Women’s Health Program was a reliable way to cover at least some of their needs. But by freezing Planned Parenthood out of the program last week, Texas has forced more than 50,000 of them to search for a new primary care doctor within the Women’s Health Program—and it is not at all clear that the system has the capacity to reabsorb them. Planned Parenthood accounted for about half of Women’s Health Program services last year—mostly in the form of cancer, diabetes, and STI treatment, plus high-blood-pressure screenings, contraception dispersement [sic], and annual checkups.
The loss of the federal funding is compounded by a cut of two-thirds of the funds the state had been allotting for family planning. By using those funds to balance the budget, experts estimate the cost to the state in unplanned pregnancies could be as much as $231 million dollars –in addition to the $200 million Perry has rejected from the federal government for the privilege of punishing Planned Parenthood and the hundreds millions more he’d like turn down in Medicaid expansion.
All in the name of life.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.com