In fact, of the more than 60 clinics that have closed across Texas, only 12 were run by Planned Parenthood. Dozens of other clinics unconnected to Planned Parenthood nonetheless lost state funds and have closed, leaving low-income women in large areas of the state without access to contraception.
It gets worse. The federally qualified health centers—which lawmakers said could provide family planning services to low-income women and make up for the cuts—have themselves experienced a funding crunch and are struggling to absorb demand. The result is that costs have shifted to patients, and exceptionally poor women now make hard choices about paying for their well-woman care. Some will find the cash, but an alarming number won’t. Indeed, the bipartisan Legislative Budget Board estimated that last year’s cuts would lead to more than 250,000 women losing services and 20,000 additional births covered by Medicaid. When The Texas Observer asked providers what they thought about the cuts, several mentioned the same phrase. They said in hoping to punish Planned Parenthood, politicians had gone too far, with devastating consequences for women’s health. Lawmakers, they said, had thrown the “baby out with the bath water.” In this story, the first in an occasional series, we examine what happened to the family planning providers who have fallen from favor.
The reduced family planning budget has destabilized every provider in Texas, whether they were small, rural organizations or large community programs in metropolitan areas. They all depend on public funding, and the large cut to their budgets forced them to reduce services, fire staff and, in some cases, close shop completely. Many of the providers that haven’t closed teeter precariously on funds from another endangered source—the Women’s Health Program. This Medicaid-funded program pays for many of the same services as the state family planning program that lawmakers cut last session. The Women’s Health Program’s future in Texas is in doubt as well. A federal court is expected to decide this fall if Texas can legally exclude Planned Parenthood from the Women’s Health Program. That ruling could determine if clinics continue to receive WHP funds or if Texas can scuttle the program entirely. Texas officials have said they will end the program rather than include Planned Parenthood. If the Women’s Health Program in Texas does end, more clinics may close.
Thank you, President Obama!
My birth control is now FREE!!!!!!!!!!
Someone’s paying. And I am glad they are, because it makes perfect sense for everyone to have access to their medication. Medical decisions are never financial decisions and we shouldn’t try to shoehorn them into ideological marketplaces.
Anyway, this is how society is supposed to work. Yay.
“Someone’s paying.” Yeah, the purchaser, when paying the health insurance premium. They don’t come without co-pays if you don’t have health insurance. Another reason Planned Parenthood remains a critically important service in our communities.
The ACLU describes why it’s not a violation of your freedom of religion to enforce laws that limit discrimination- and demonstrates that it’s well established with legal precedent.
While today’s controversy centers around access to contraception and eradicating gender discrimination, the claim that the business makes in today’s case – that religious objections should trump laws designed to promote equality – is not unique. A few examples:• In 1966, three African-American customers brought a suit against Piggie Park restaurants, and their owner, Maurice Bessinger, for refusal to serve them. Bessinger argued that enforcement of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits that type of discrimination, violated his religious freedom “since his religious beliefs compel[ed] him to oppose any integration of the races whatever.”
• In 1976, Roanoke Valley Christian Schools added a “head of household” supplement to their teachers’ salaries – which according to their beliefs meant married men, and not women. When sued under the Equal Pay Act, Roanoke Valley claimed a right to an exemption. According to the church pastor affiliated with the school, “[w]hen we turned to the Scriptures to determine head of household, by scriptural basis, we found that the Bible clearly teaches that the husband is the head of the house, head of the wife, head of the family.”• In the 1980’s, Bob Jones University, a religiously-affiliated school in South Carolina, wanted an exemption from a rule denying tax-exempt status to schools that practice racial discrimination. The “sponsors of the University genuinely believe[d] that the Bible forbids interracial dating and marriage,” and it was school policy that students engaged in interracial relationships, or advocacy thereof, would be expelled.
Fortunately, in all of these cases, the court rejected the claim that religious beliefs can trump anti-discrimination laws. Even in the 1960’s, the court recognized that although a business owner has a constitutional right to express his religious beliefs, he does not have an absolute right to exercise such beliefs “in utter disregard” of the rights of others. The court in today’s case should follow history and what courts have long recognized: that religion is not a license to discriminate.
Wheaton College, a private Christian school in Illinois, wishes to be exempt from the Obama administration’s newly-enacted birth control insurance mandate, like other religious-run schools and hospitals. But there’s one problem: Wheaton doesn’t qualify for the exemption, despite the fact that they’re adamantly against emergency contraception and birth control and all the unbridled harlotry that proliferates in the presence of the two evil medicines. The reason they don’t qualify? Turns out that before all this Obamacare business, the school was already covering emergency contraception. I believe the technical word for what just happened is “Derp.”
in response to Representative Mike Kelly’s (R-Pa.) comment linking the birth control mandate to the attack on Pearl Harbor and 9/11 terrorist attacks
In a surprising departure from conservative orthodoxy, Tea Party Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) broke with Romney’s legal adviser yesterday, stating that the Constitution does indeed protect a right to birth control.
A look behind the scenes of Texas’s decision last year to cut funding for family planning and wage “an all-out war on Planned Parenthood”—and what that may mean for the future of women’s health care:
It was a given that reasonable people could differ over abortion, but most lawmakers believed that funding birth control programs was just good policy; not only did it reduce the number of abortions, but it reduced the burden on the state to care for more children.
That changed dramatically after 2010, when Republicans won 25 seats in the House, giving them a supermajority of 101 to 49 and total control over the law-making process. (The male-female split is 118 men to 32 women.) As the Eighty-second Legislature began, a freshman class of right-wing legislators arrived in Austin, determined to cut government spending—a.k.a. ‘waste’—and push a deeply conservative social agenda. At the same time, Governor Perry was preparing to launch his presidential bid, burnishing his résumé for a national conservative audience. It wasn’t a good time to be a Democrat, but it wasn’t a great time to be a moderate Republican either. Conservative organizations turned out to be as skilled at social media as your average sixteen-year-old, using Twitter and Facebook to chronicle and broadcast every move of the supposed RINOs. A climate of fear descended on the Capitol. ‘Most people in the House think we should allow poor women to have Pap smears and prenatal care and contraception,’ an aide to a top House Republican told me. ‘But they are worried about primary opponents.’
The result, in Texas and beyond, was a full-scale assault on the existing system of women’s health care, with a bull’s-eye on the back of Planned Parenthood, the major provider of both abortions and family planning in Texas and the country. As Representative Wayne Christian told the Texas Tribune, in May 2011, ‘Of course it’s a war on birth control, abortion, everything. That’s what family planning is supposed to be about.’
What we’re reading.
A federal judge has dismissed a federal lawsuit in which Nebraska and six other states tried to block part of the federal health care law that requires contraception coverage.
U.S. District Judge Warren Urbom of Lincoln dismissed the case Tuesday, saying the plaintiffs did not have standing to bring the action challenging part of the Affordable Care Act.
The importance of contraception is something I feel I know my way around; I went to Nepal with Save the Children slightly sceptical about the idea that you need to see it to believe it. I already believe it. But what you see isn’t what you expect. On the face of it, you would recognise in Nepal everything you’ve ever heard about the way women are treated outside the west. A third of marriages feature one participant under 15, usually the girl. They still practise chhaupadi in some rural areas, which means that when you’re menstruating, you are considered so unclean that you have to go and live in the shed. I thought that was a lot worse before I saw the sheds, which look just like the living quarters, except that they tend to be downstairs and have a cow in them. Nevertheless, to see ovulation as a bad omen and bringer of family illness is not great for the status of women. There are villages where, even if you are raped, the act of intercourse results in you being de facto married to the rapist.
When girls of 13 and 14 get pregnant, the results are often brutal. Their own health is dicey throughout pregnancy, and the babies are often painfully small. It was not unusual to meet girls who’d had babies weighing two or three pounds, at full term. Stillbirths and maternal deaths in labour are common. The mothers can get uterine prolapse or fistula later on. It clearly caused some soul-searching for a charity called Save the Children to get involved in an initiative that prevented, rather than saved, any fresh children, but it’s a signal of how important this is; children don’t win from a cultural norm that results in ill babies – nobody wins. Plus, the mothers are children, too.
Inescapably, then, family planning has rocked and will continue to rock this society – the changes will not stop at smaller family sizes and lower infant mortality and higher female literacy and better maternal health. The new possibilities enliven the children’s clubs, where kids between about 10 and 18 gather to campaign, mainly against child marriage, but also for access to contraception.
Anybody who has ever had any doubts about the children’s rights agenda – whether it’s possible to airdrop the idea of rights into a culture that isn’t individualistic – should see one of these meetings, housed in a stuffy room with a drawing of fallopian tubes on one wall and a portrait, copied from a photograph, of Yuri Gagarin on another. The kids sing us a song about child marriage (one bit translates: “Getting married as a child ruins your chances in life/ and you also risk a uterine prolapse” – in Nepalese, that rhymes), and then describe the work that they do, persuading determined Romeos and Juliets to wait, picketing wedding ceremonies, spreading the message that life could be better, lived another way. As we leave, they ask us what they could learn from young political activists in the UK, and we are totally stumped. Nothing. Maybe how to play Angry Birds.
If you think family planning isn’t a children’s issue, you just haven’t met enough children.
Campaigners have attacked a “war on women” being waged by religious organisations before an international summit on family planning to be held in London this week.
The conference, co-hosted by the Department for International Development (Dfid) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, plans to raise money and awareness to bring contraception to millions of women and girls in the developing world.
This weekend Melinda French Gates, the wife of the Microsoft founder and one of the world’s richest women, tried to deflect controversy around the summit. In an interview to be broadcast on CNN on Sunday, she said giving women better access to contraception had become her lifetime’s work.
Gates, who is a practising Catholic, has been targeted by religious groups, which have described her mission as a “blatant attack on morality” and an elitist effort at population control.
In response Gates said the lack of family planning available to 210 million women was “a crime”. She added: “We made birth control and contraceptives way too political in the US. I think if people understood that 200 million women want this around the world they would start to say, ‘OK that makes sense.’”
Her view is backed by Andrew Mitchell, the minister for international development, who told the Observer that no attention should be paid to “noises off” in setting a new agenda. “We have to focus on what we know there is widespread support for,” he said. “It may be an edgy agenda, but we are very clear that what we are seeking to do is to reduce by half the number of poor women who want contraception but can’t get it. We’re trying to ensure that women have the opportunity to decide for themselves.
“We know it makes economic sense and, if we are successful, it would mean 100 million fewer unintended pregnancies, 200,000 lives saved, 50 million abortions averted,” he said.
The London summit, which takes place on Wednesday, will kick off the Gates Foundation’s official campaign – Gates wants to raise $4bn worldwide.
There is a strong consensus to suggest that with access to voluntary family planning, poverty declines, education rates rise, the health of women and children improves and the numbers of women who die in childbirth and children who die under the age of five falls.
Crisis Pregnancy Centers often masquerade as abortion consultation facilities — they lure in women who are pregnant and terrified, and then often try to convince them not to get the procedure. Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that is a totally acceptable practice. The city of Baltimore passed a law in 2009 to require such centers to post disclosures of their positions on abortion and contraception. Then, a lower court put a hold on enforcement of that law. Today, the appeals court agreed with the lower court by a vote of 2-1. It is possible this decision could be reversed by a larger panel of the same court, however. The overwhelming majority of judges on the Fourth Circuit are Democratic appointees, but the panel that decided this case included two Republicans.
Don’t cha love people who sue for the right to lie.
The Catholic bishops’ call for civil disobedience surrounding health care reform doesn’t kick off until Thursday, June 21 but already there are signs that the flock is not as enthusiastic about the bishops’ positions.
Catholic communities across the country have told the bishops via a letter campaign that they will be withholding contributions to the Bishops’ Catholic Communications Campaign as a result of their attacks on health care reform and that they strongly disagree with the direction the leadership is taking the church.
Eric Fehrnstrom: Mitt Romney is pro-life. He’ll govern as a pro-life president, but you’re going to see the Democrats use all sorts of shiny objects to distract people’s attention from the Obama performance on the economy. This is not a social issue election.
Eric Fehrnstrom, Mitt Romney’s senior campaign adviser, claiming issues like contraception coverage and abortion rights, were “shiny objects” being used to distract voters.
Not a social issues election?
You can’t fire up the culture wars as an entire party and then have the nominee’s spokesman trot out to the Sunday morning shows and say, “Lulz, j/k!” when you’re losing said war.
Women’s rights and reproductive rights are “shiny objects” and nothing more?
Remember this in November. Remember, if you give a damn about women’s rights, access to contraception, and reproductive rights in general, the Romney campaign thinks you’re being distracted by shiny objects.
Oh, and access to contraception and reproductive health services is very much tied to the economy thankyouverymuch.