Women

04.29.14

A State Abandons Poor & Uninsured Women

Texas women are being denied access to abortion care, birth control and family planning.

You could forgive the women of Texas’ Rio Grande Valley for being confused. The same state policies that have removed their access to safe, legal abortion have also contrived to eliminate their access to birth control and health care. Last month, the Rio Grande Valley’s two local abortion clinics were closed under a new state omnibus law. The state legislature also slashed family-planning funds and closed family-planning providers. Many women had already been frequenting flea markets to buy pills to end their pregnancies (a questionably safe practice to begin with); there, they also sought out contraception, like birth control pills or injectable Depo-Provera. In response, the local sheriff raided the flea markets. Now that option, too, is gone. Despite significant funding cuts, Planned Parenthood has been able to maintain a weekly clinic; women wait months for an appointment and hours in the waiting room to see a single nurse practitioner. “Sixty-six percent of the funds were slashed completely and given to other programs that don’t do family planning,” said Patricio Gonzalez, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Hidalgo County. While the remaining programs may be worthwhile, Gonzalez said, “they’re not for women, especially not poor and uninsured women.”