Coming Soon: The Real Costs of the War on Women’s Health Care in Texas

Recall how some Texas lawmakers bragged during the last legislative session that they were engaged in “a war on birth control, abortion, everything — that’s what family planning is supposed to be about.” We’re about to see the real human costs of that war.

Gov. Rick Perry, Republican lawmakers and religious-right groups have claimed that a new law barring Planned Parenthood clinics from participating in the Medicaid-funded Women’s Health Program (WHP) won’t hurt uninsured, low-income women because other providers will step in to fill the gap. But that’s a fantasy, a new study from the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services suggests.

Last year the Texas Legislature barred from the WHP any clinic that either provides abortion services or is affiliated with an abortion provider. Planned Parenthood clinics currently in the WHP do not provide abortion services, but the organization does advocate for woman’s right to have an abortion and provides abortion services in separate facilities. Nearly half of the 100,000 women in Texas who receive services through the WHP currently get care through Planned Parenthood clinics, according to a study by the University of Texas Population Research Center. Moreover, as the Texas Tribune reports today, the WHP and other family planning services save taxpayer money by reducing the number of unintended pregnancies in Texas.

But the George Washington study explains how tens of thousands of women could lose access to those services when the state fully implements the new anti-Planned Parenthood policy on November 1. That’s because non-Planned Parenthood clinics simply don’t have the space and resources to take on the huge caseload of current Planned Parenthood patients. In fact, Planned Parenthood served between 51 and a whopping 84 percent of the WHP’s patients in the counties the study examined, the Texas Tribune reports. Because so many women could lose access to family planning services (as well as preventive health care services for cancer and sexually transmitted diseases), the number of unplanned births in Texas could increase by 2,000 to 3,000 a year, the researchers concluded.

Read the whole Texas Tribune piece here. You can find more about the study also at Quorum Report (subscription required).