The right wing assault on Planned Parenthood is starting to take its toll.
Congressional cuts in Title X family planning have forced the organization to cut six of its 24 clinics in Minnesota. The clinics are small and located relatively near large metropolitan areas, but closing them puts up one more obstacle in the path of low-income women seeking family planning services.
Announcing the closures, the organization’s president and CEO, Sarah Stoesz, said the budget cuts “were driven by ideological attacks on women’s health, not by a desire to fix the economy.”
Ms. Stoesz … told us the clinics that are set to be shuttered are mostly smaller clinics in smaller communities. “But that’s where some of the more poor and isolated women are,” she said. “So the people who have the least end up paying the most. It’s very sad and frustrating.”
In Indiana, Planned Parenthood is closing five clinics in the central part of the state because of the federal cuts. In a statement, the organization said the funding cut will also affect clinics that aren’t closeing. It was decided that “many of our sites must now become fully self-sustaining, or independent, because of the restrictions placed on the funding.”
Kansas legislators essentially disqualified Planned Parenthood from receiving Title X funds, which provide half the budget for the organization’s three clinics in the state. Those cuts take effect July 1, although Peter Brownlie, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas & Mid-Missouri, says a lawsuit is still being considered. The organization plans to keep its clinics open by pushing donors harder. If that fails, “then we’ll be forced to change the way we charge for services — to increase cost of care for poor women in Kansas,” Brownlie said.
Funding isn’t the only problem. The state is now in the process of implementing new clinic regulations that opponents say were specifically designed to make it difficult for abortion providers to keep their licenses. The latest version of the regulations were issued June 17, the same day as the clinics were required to apply for new licenses. Utah and Virginia have also passed new abortion clinic regulation laws. Said Brownlie:
It’s sort of absurd that Republican leadership in Kansas and that Governor Brownback, who say — and I believe them– that they’re opposed to abortion for any reason, at any time, are taking action that will make it more difficult for people to avoid unplanned pregnancies which result in abortion. We’ve repeatedly called on the governor and the legislature to help prevent unintended pregnancies and the math is pretty simple and pretty clear. Half of all pregnancies in this country are unintended. Forty percent of those result in abortion. Yet what this state is doing is reducing access to family planning in pursuit of their political agenda.
North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed the bill defunding Planned Parenthood in North Carolina, but the legislature overrode her. The cuts will affect the organization’s teen pregnancy and parenting programs in a state where the teen pregnancy rate is well above the national average.
While the campaign against Planned Parenthood has been targeted because it provides abortions, the defunding and unnecessary regulations amount to, as Stoesz says, “purely and simply an attack on women and their rights to reproductive health care. And it is an outrage that women should be potentially forced into unintended pregnancies due to lack of birth control.”
One more battle in the war on women.