A must read op-ed in the Washington Post by Joseph E. Potter and Kari White of the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) shows the impact “defunding” Planned Parenthood had in Texas. What happened in Texas is a cautionary tale for the Trump administration and Congress — and the op-ed demonstrates that they should not repeat the same mistakes on the national level.
The Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress are pushing to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds to pay for contraception and cervical and breast cancer screenings. Funding for the federal Title X program, which provides infrastructure support to a network of nearly 4,000 clinics across the country, could also be in jeopardy.
Five years ago, we learned in Texas what can happen when efforts to defund Planned Parenthood are carried out: The network of health-care providers falls apart and women lose access to essential preventive services. Now Trump and his allies are poised to wreak the same havoc on the country that the 2011 Republican state legislature imposed on Texas.
After these cuts, 82 Texas family planning clinics — one out of every four in the state — closed or stopped providing family planning services.
An unintended consequence of the law was that two-thirds of the clinics that closed were not even Planned Parenthood clinics. Organizations that remained open, many with reduced hours, were often unable to offer the most effective methods of contraception, such as IUDs and contraceptive implants, to women who wanted them. The closings and reduced hours also eliminated or cut back access to primary care providers for a significant number of women.
The leaders of family planning clinics who we interviewed felt devastated by the choices they had to make, and some ended their interview sessions in tears.
These findings represent a stark rebuttal to the repeated assurances made by state leaders then — and Republicans in Congress now — that the gap left by Planned Parenthood would be easily filled by community health centers or women switching their care to private physicians.