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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Health

Defunding Planned Parenthood proves problematic for uninsured minorities


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| Justin Cross/The Cougar

Seventeen Planned Parenthood clinics were hit under the belt when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed and passed a provision on the 2016-17 state budget, prohibiting clinics that perform abortions to get taxpayer money for their additional services.

Many uninsured and low-income women in Texas, especially minorities, are now unable to get the proper service from the Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening program.

Of the $34.6 million in taxpayer-funded breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings in Texas from the fiscal years of 2013-15, 12.7 percent went to Planned Parenthood clinics according to Texas Monthly.

Planned Parenthood Communication Specialist Alejandra Diaz said she believes ousting this organization and other providers isn’t the solution — it’s just the opposite.

“The consequences are devastating,” Diaz said. “Planned Parenthood has been a trusted provider for thousands of low-income, uninsured women, providing them with access through this federally-funded program.”

The severe budget cuts, effective on Sept. 1, were brought forward after allegations came forward that Planned Parenthood was illegally profiting from its services. The fight between legislation and Planned Parenthood has been an ongoing brawl, but heated up after a video became viral, showing the organization’s senior director of medical research, Deborah Nucatola, discussing selling fetal organs.

Law sophomore Camille Van Kote said this isn’t just a gender issue. Many women will be affected, but men use the services too.

“Congress has overstepped its line,” Van Kote said. “Young men and women (also) go to Planned Parenthood to get STD and STI testing, genital cancer screenings, breast cancer and various other health screenings, testing or help. There are even counseling services.”

In 2014, Planned Parenthood provided cancer screenings for 2,938 Texas women through its BCCS services, including more than 900 clinical breast exams, 278 mammograms and 1,854 Pap smears.

That fiscal year found that Planned Parenthood served nine percent of the 33,635 women who received services from BCCS facilities according to Texas Monthly.

Law Center alumnus Ingrid Norbergs said the organization is the only thing standing between patients and the urgent help that they need.

“As a recent law school graduate, I know how important it is to be able to access healthcare when you’re a student with limited income,” Norbergs said.

This move to defund the budget will have dire effects for Latina women, a minority who comprise roughly 57 percent of the total women who get cancer screening, according to Planned Parenthood’s 2014 fiscal year reports.

The Center for Reproductive Rights and National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health’s January 2015 report revealed the incidence of cervical cancer is 17 percent higher than the national average.

Hispanic women in Texas have a higher incidence rate than their white or black peers, according to the report, since they are less likely to ever get screened or have not been screened in the last five years.

Just last month, Blanca Borrego was arrested while seeking health care at Harris County reproductive clinic for presenting a fake ID to get access to affordable services. The undocumented patient now may face deportation.

“We know that both native and foreign-born Latinos often need access to affordable healthcare the most, but (they) are the least likely to have access to it,” Vanessa Gonzalez-Plummhoff, director of Latino and Leadership, said.

“Planned Parenthood believes that all women and their families deserve the highest quality of care no matter who they are, where they live, or where they are from – no matter what.”

Van Kote, chairman of UH’s Law Students for Reproductive Justice, joined the organization in an effort to raise awareness and show how reproductive rights aren’t limited to issues of abortion, but also accessible health care for those who don’t have the reliable resources.

“I recently moved to Texas and was very surprised to hear that access to women’s health care was so difficult and the topic was such a controversy,” Van Kote said.

“Access to quality health care is not a privilege, it is a right.”

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