Friday, March 9, 2012

Sanctions hurt the poor here

Not in Iran, Iraq, Syria, or Libya...

In Texas. The Texas legislature wanted to put sanctions on Planned Parenthood, so they eliminated funding and took the double hit from the loss of federal grants for family planning too. Clinical sites are closing and fees are being instituted or raised.

Some poor women may shift some of their small but existent disposable cash to pay for contraception. But for others, having to travel further and raise the extra $60  for the 3- or 6-month supply of pills will prove impossible, and nature will take its course. By this time next year, Texas may or may not see the results of this policy in birth rates, maternity hospital fees, child health program sign-ups, and adoptions.

We don't know the outcome yet. But it didn't have to come to this. In the fight over Planned Parenthood, someone could have blinked. Texas could have backed down, or Planned Parenthood could have separated into two organization: one that handles abortions and another that handles everything else.

If PP had done that, it would have been a capitulation to anti-choice forces and an abandonment of part of its mission. Still, I hope they considered it. If both types of services remain available through separate, that's not a huge sacrifice to make. Instead, both Texas and PP decided to sacrifice free or subsidized care for poor women.

Well, it's probably wrong to say Texas or PP sacrificed. The government of Texas (elected officials and public employees) and PP (the governing board and employees), and the strident pro-lifers behind the "kill PP" movement, are most likely still covered for the contraceptives they need and want. The real sacrifice is borne by those poor women who are pushed back into the bygone days of no contraceptives with all those stresses and uncertainties. We, the decision makers, are safe.

How far is the clinic?

Sources: NYT, Reuters, local Amarillo station

Update 3/16/12. Texas is suing the federal government over the loss of federal funding for its programs. Texas paper, Baltimore paper.

Update 4/15/12. More details on Planned Parenthood closings in Texas.

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