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1 Randall Gross  Tue, Feb 7, 2012 11:00:46am

You also have to wonder how many civil lawsuits state of Texas is going to have to pay out for after the courts overturn this.

2 simoom  Tue, Feb 7, 2012 11:53:36am


The GOP crusade against Planned Parenthood is devastating basic care for Texas women

Carole Belver, executive director of Community Action Inc. of Central Texas, spent Tues­day, Jan. 24, closing up the CAI women's health clinic in Elgin. As she packed up supplies and prepared files to be moved to Lockhart, the closest of the group's two remaining clinics, "the phone was ringing off the wall," she says. Three staff members have been terminated, and hundreds of clients have been left wondering where they'll go to receive basic reproductive and preventative health care.

Belver doesn't know what to tell them. CAI, which until recently operated 13 clinics in medium- and small-sized communities in Central Texas, now has just two, in Lockhart and San Marcos. "It's horrible; it's just devastating," she says. "And there's really no place for these clients to go."

Indeed, CAI is among 12 women's health contractors operating 22 clinics statewide that have been completely defunded as a result of last year's April Fools' Day slashing by Texas lawmakers of the family-planning budget traditionally used to provide low-income and uninsured women with access to health services. As it stands, there remains just $38 million of a roughly $100 million biennial budget to provide these vital health services – screenings for cervical and breast cancers and for diabetes and hypertension, as well as access to birth control, among other preventative health services that together make up a "well-woman checkup." Since 2005, this money – federal dollars passed back through the state to fund services – has paid for health care for an average of 244,000 needy women a year; with the small pot that remains, just $19 million this year, the Department of State Health Ser­vices estimates that just 60,000 low-income women will be able to access basic health services in 2012.

Why lawmakers chose to decimate a budget that had been barely keeping pace with actual need for services – according to a 2008 Guttmacher Institute report, there are some 1.5 million women in need of reproductive health services in Texas – can be summed up in two words: Planned Parent­hood. An increasingly aggressive political campaign against the nearly 100-year-old nonprofit is at the heart of the cuts. Conservative lawmakers – and their backers at Texas Right to Life and other anti-abortion groups – were nearly giddy about the cuts last spring, proclaiming that slashing the budget would cripple Planned Par­ent­hood, one of the state's largest providers of women's health care, and thereby bring an end to the "abortion industry."

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