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· May 17, 2013

Ohio’s legislature could learn from Texas’ experience

A provision in Ohio’s biennial budget proposes defunding Planned Parenthood. In Ohio Planned Parenthood serves an estimated 100,000 patients each year, and the proposed defunding would  reduce access to vital health services. This would leave many women without affordable access to contraception, life saving cancer screenings, Pap tests and the prevention and treatment of STDs.   Prior to voting on this legislation, the Ohio Legislature would be wise to take a lesson from other states. In Texas, in an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, legislation was passed which prevented Planned Parenthood clinics from participating in Texas’ Women’s Health Program.  This was despite the fact that the 51 the clinics served nearly half of the women who participated in the program. That same year, 2011, the Texas legislature cut family planning funds by two-thirds and the federal government, noting that the state couldn’t exclude clinics without an adequate reason, withdrew $30 million a year in federal funds from Texas. This loss of funds had major consequences.  According to a recent article by the Houston Chronicle:
Public health officials estimate 140,000 women in Texas lost access to preventive care after the budget cuts, including more than 7,000 in Bexar County. More than 50 clinics have shut down across the state, two-thirds of them not affiliated with Planned Parenthood or any abortion provider, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. Others have reduced hours and services or increased prices.
But not only did women lose access to important health services, the consequence of these actions are showing up in health statistics. San Antonio is located in Bexar county.
They estimate there were an additional 1,350 unplanned pregnancies in Bexar County last year, compared to two years ago…Last year, the county saw record increases in syphilis cases, something Dr. Thomas Schlenker, director of Metro Health ties directly to the loss of clinic funding. In 2012, there were 565 new cases of syphilis, about 100 more than in previous years, and 18 cases of congenital syphilis, more than double that of 2011, he said.
Does the Ohio legislature really want to put women at this kind of risk?

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