AUSTIN, Texas, (UPI) — Planned Parenthood is going to court in Texas, seeking to reverse defunding by the state, a move providers say sent women scrambling to find healthcare.
Providers said Texas’ defunding of Planned Parenthood — part of Gov. Rick Perry’s Initiatives to Protect Life — means low-income women are searching for new doctors and even non-Planned Parenthood clinics said they are in flux, ABC News reported Thursday.
Texas no longer allows state tax dollars to go toward clinics affiliated with abortion providers or advocates, dropping Planned Parenthood from the list of providers of the state-financed Women’s Health Program.
“These people trying to shut this down never met me, never met any of these other women,” Rachel Landon, 29, an actress, told ABC News.
Because it was difficult to find a doctor she trusts, Landon said she stayed with Planned Parenthood after college.
“Losing that not only hurts me financially, but it hurts me as a Texan on a personal level,” she said.
From 2007 through 2012, the Women’s Health Program received 90 percent of its funding from Medicare, but that changed when state lawmakers decided to bar Planned Parenthood and other clinics affiliated with abortion.
Federal officials determined the state’s action was illegal because it interfered with a woman’s right to choose her own doctor and said Texas could either allow Planned Parenthood to be part of the Women’s Health Program or lose federal funding. Texas, in response, initiated a new Women’s Health Program that only uses state funds and excludes Planned Parenthood.
The changes went into effect Jan. 1.
“The ignorance, I think, that is so rampant among the legislative community is mind boggling,” said Regina Rogoff, executive director of the People’s Community Clinic, an independent family planning provider in Austin.
Rogoff’s clinic so far hasn’t been cut from the state-funded Women’s Health Program, but she said she’s not sure it will participate because Texas targeted any organization that might refer a patient to an abortion provider, ABC News said.
“The idea the state is putting a gag order on what physicians can say to a patient is just offensive,” she said.
Patients who no longer have a healthcare provider because of the Texas ban on the Planned Parenthood and abortion-affiliated clinic can visit to TexasWomensHealth.org to find Women’s Health Program-eligible clinics. Rogoff said the level of participants is misleading.
“They say they have these thousands of providers, but we’re listed six times,” she said, “and we’re not taking new patients except for a limited number of teens.”
The Texas Health and Human Services Department knows that the website has redundancies, but its internal system tracks providers by a single-provider number, spokeswoman Linda Edwards Gockel said.
“There’s a 1-800 number for people to call so that they can ask somebody else to do the legwork for them,” Edwards Gockel said, adding that all callers has been matched successfully with a new provider.