Planned Parenthood Can No Longer Offer Cancer Screenings To Poor Women In Texas. Thanks, GOP

After the release of the deceptively edited videos from the Center For Medical Progress, everyone knew it would only be a matter of time before Republicans began attacking Planned Parenthood. Of course, Republican attacks mean that not only will women be denied abortion services, they will also have a more difficult time obtaining other health services, such as cancer screenings. In some areas, Planned Parenthood is the only option for women, especially poor women, to obtain those services.

Of course, leading the idiocy parade in the attack on Planned Parenthood is the state of Texas. That state has actually been working overtime to defund Planned Parenthood since before the videos ever hit the news. Now,the Texas Tribune reports that, as of September 1, poor women in Texas will no longer be able to receive breast and cervical cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood offices.

In May, a budget compromise in the Texas legislature changed the way funds were allocated for a joint state-federal program that provides cancer screening for poor, uninsured women. Currently, Planned Parenthood provides breast and cervical cancer screenings for about 10 percent of the women who participate in the program. The legislature’s intent was to cut Planned Parenthood out of the money. When some legislators realized that the way the bill was written might result in other clinics being denied funds, the language was changed to block funds from being given to any organization that provides abortion services.

Author of the legislation, Republican Senator Jane Nelson, made it clear that her intention was to eliminate Planned Parenthood from the cancer screening program. Nelson said:

“There are many members that feel very strongly that the facilities that receive funding should not be facilities for performing abortions, so the answer is, don’t perform abortions and you get the money.”

So in Texas, it’s not enough to deny funding for abortions. If your facility performs abortions, Texas won’t give you money for anything. In fact, that is already state law. This budget provision goes further, in that now, it’s not enough that you don’t perform abortions in your facility. If you are associated with an organization that provides abortion services, you can’t get the cancer screening money.

Texas Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Sarah Wheat said:

“From where I’m sitting, this really looks like the next effort to target Planned Parenthood. And yet really what they’re doing is targeting poor and uninsured women.”

Statistics from 2014 show just how badly poor women in Texas stand to get hurt. According to the Texas Tribune:

  • Planned Parenthood received 12.7 percent of taxpayer funding for cancer screenings over the past two years
  • 16 percent of 11,567 pap smears that were done in 2014 were done at Planned Parenthood clinics
  • Out of 2,165 women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer through the screening program in 2014, 161 of them, or 7.4 percent, were diagnosed at a Planned Parenthood clinic

Texas lawmakers may be some of the most rabidly anti-Planned Parenthood legislators in the country, but moves like this are certain to come up in other Republican controlled states. As they proved with their opposition to the Affordable Care Act, Republicans are adept at getting their way, one way or another. If they can’t accomplish something on the federal level, they’ll get what they want piecemeal, state by state. Texas women are the victims today, but you can rest assured that there will be more victims in other states before too long. Wherever Republicans are in charge, women are vulnerable.

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