September 27, 2012 — More than 50 Texas clinics that provide family planning services have closed as the result of state cuts to family planning funding, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Texas Tribune reports.
The changes to the two-year family planning budget, which the Legislature approved last session, decreased funding by two-thirds and created a tiered system under which priority goes to public health clinics over those that only offer family planning services. As a result, funding ended to 35 out of 76 clinics that exclusively provide family planning services, and budgets for those that still qualified dropped by up to 75%.
Of the 240 clinics that previously received public funding to provide family planning services, 53 have closed and 38 have reduced their hours, according to the NEJM report. Many of the clinics that are still open have started charging for services that previously were offered at no charge, raised prices for other services and restricted access to more effective contraception methods that are more expensive.
Contraception and well-woman visits "remain out of reach for some of the poorest women," while women who can afford the fees "are choosing less-effective methods, purchasing fewer pill packs and opting out of testing for sexually transmitted infections to save money," researchers wrote.
The report is part of a three-year study by the Population Research Center at the University of Texas-Austin that focuses on how the cuts affect women's health. Joseph Potter, co-author of the report and a sociology professor at the university, said the researchers also plan to examine the effects on birth, unintended pregnancy and abortion rates in Texas, as well as related financial consequences (Aaronson, Texas Tribune, 9/26).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership