Planned Parenthood to Close Odessa Clinic Due to Lack of Funding 2/24/12
CBS 7 Reporter
February 23, 2012
Midland, TX - The Odessa Planned Parenthood office is shutting its doors for good. Without the state funding they depend on, they say they have no other choice.
State leaders signed a rule yesterday that shuts off funding from the Texas Women’s Health Program to Planned Parenthood or any other abortion provider. As a result, Planned Parenthood of West Texas made the decision to close its Odessa clinic.
The Women's Health Program is a Medicaid waiver program serving nearly 124,000 Texas women.
"They depend on this for basic needs like birth control, annual exams, cancer screenings," explains Planned Parenthood of West Texas CEO & President Karen Pieper Hildebrand.
Those services used to be free but as of March 14th patients will be forced to pay out of pocket.
"We still need to find a way to provide those services to women," says State Senator Kel Seliger.
While state representatives agree that women need affordable health care, they stand strong on the decision not to fund an organization that provides abortions.
"And it doesn’t matter who provides those services but the feeling was that those who provide those services need to provide just those services,” Seliger claims. “It's really directed at Planned Parenthood."
"That funding has never been used to fund abortions. It’s not allowed to. Those services come from two completely separate funding pools,” Hildebrand says.
Planned Parenthood is feeling the hit. On March 9th the Odessa Clinic will shut it’s doors for good.
"That site only provides family planning care for the poorest of the poor," she says.
4,000 women use the clinic, 71% of which rely on the Women's Health Program.
Planned Parenthood says they fear the states attempt to lower the abortion rate will do just the opposite if women can't afford preventative methods.
"Were going to see an increase in unintended pregnancy, abortion rates and STD rates," she explains. "The reason they're cutting this funding is just because of political reasons. It is really disastrous for the healthcare of women in Texas."
Because of the state's decision to withdraw funding, federal money is also now in jeopardy. The Obama Administration says this move is a deal breaker and could take away the $40 million federal Medicaid program provided to the state
Just to clarify, the Odessa clinic does not offer abortion services.
The Midland clinic will remain open.
One place where you can receive affordable health services is The Ector County Health Department. The department offers routine confidential testing for HIV and STD's including gonorrhea, Chlamydia and syphilis. All testing is $10 and performed on a walk-in basis.