July 18, 2013
Statement from Melaney A. Linton, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, on the closure of Bryan, Huntsville and Lufkin health centers.
State restrictions result in thousands of women likely to face no access to reproductive health care in three rural, underserved communities.
"Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast has been providing high quality family planning and basic health care in Houston and Southeast Texas for nearly 80 years. Four decades ago the state of Texas asked Planned Parenthood to be a partner in bringing healthcare to the most underserved rural communities. With the generous support of individuals throughout Houston and Southeast Texas, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast has proudly cared for women and men in the underserved communities of Bryan, Lufkin, and Huntsville for nearly forty years.
"In recent years, Texas politicians have created an increasingly hostile environment for providers of reproductive health care in underserved communities. Texans with little or no access to health care services have been deeply affected by state budget cuts to programs provided by Planned Parenthood health centers and dozens of others that provided lifesaving cancer screenings, well-woman exams and birth control.
"Deplorably, the combined impact of years of budget cuts to women's health care services and the dismantling of the successful Women's Health Program will take affordable, preventive health care options away from women in Bryan, Lufkin and Huntsville -- just as these policies have taken health care away from an estimated 130,000 others -- when Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast is forced to close these family planning health centers at the end of August.
"Ensuring Texas women have access to the care they need to stay healthy, especially women in rural and underserved areas, goes to the heart of our mission. We are making every effort to provide resources for our patients faced with health center closings; however the alarming reality is that most will be left with no real options for getting the basic, preventive health care they need.
"In addition to losing reliable access to prevention services, women will also lose access to safe abortion services in Brazos County, due to the recent passage of politicized healthcare restrictions in Texas House Bill 2. Women who have made the complex, deeply personal decision to end a pregnancy have relied on Planned Parenthood Center for Choice in Bryan, a separate, nonprofit healthcare provider. While we believe the excessive and medically unnecessary requirements imposed on clinics providing early abortion are unconstitutional, we have made the difficult and practical decision to close Planned Parenthood Center for Choice in Bryan at this time rather than face the prospect of having to do so in the foreseeable future.
"Planned Parenthood is grateful to the Bryan, Huntsville, and Lufkin communities for their decades of support and determination to ensure that high quality health care is accessible to all.
"It is a travesty that Texas politicians are stripping healthcare from women across the state, harming lives and unraveling the health care safety net that has taken decades to build. As voices in support of women's health continue to grow within the state and as the chorus of alarmed people nationwide focus their attention on Texas politicians, Planned Parenthood will continue to work strongly to eliminate these politicized barriers and to stand up for women in Texas, no matter what.
"Supporters can go to standwithtexaswomen.org and tell politicians to stop interfering with women's health.
"Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast remains committed to continuing to provide women with the health care they have trusted from us for more than 75 years."
Currently, more than one-quarter of Texas women are uninsured, and the rate of cervical cancer for women in Texas ranks in the top 10 nationally. The need for preventive women's health services in Texas is great--however, beginning as far back as 2006, Texas officials have enacted policies that limit low-income and uninsured women's access to breast and cervical cancer screenings, well-woman exams, and contraception to prevent unintended pregnancy.
This year alone, an estimated 130,000 women are going without preventive health care because of Texas officials' politically-motivated 2011 budget cuts to family planning, which have reportedly caused more than 60 women's health care centers to close statewide.
Since Governor Perry has banned Planned Parenthood from the state Women's Health Program in 2012, health care access for tens of thousands more has been lost.
Researchers writing in the New England Journal of Medicine evaluated the short-term impact of the 2011 family planning cuts on women's health. "We are witnessing the dismantling of a safety net that took decades to build and could not easily be recreated even if funding were restored soon," the authors concluded.
All patient medical records will be maintained by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. We will provide or transfer records to another provider upon request.
Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast health centers in Bryan, Huntsville and Lufkin provide the following preventive health care services to patients:
- Well-woman exam
- Birth control
- Cancer screenings
- HIV testing
- Pregnancy testing & services
- STD testing, treatment and vaccines
Planned Parenthood Center for Choice provides safe and legal abortions in Bryan. The Huntsville and Lufkin health centers do not provide abortion services.
Research has shown that provisions in House Bill 2 could make safe and legal abortion unavailable to Texas women outside of a few urban areas, and indeed, provisions in the recently-passed legislation will force Planned Parenthood Center for Choice to discontinue abortion services in Bryan.
The provisions in Texas House Bill 2 forcing all abortions in Texas to be provided in ambulatory surgery centers do "not promote the public health objective it claims to enhance--the safety of women--instead it harms public health by creating obstacles in access to safe, legal, and accessible abortion services.... This would represent a significant step backward for the health status of Texas women," wrote Dr. Lisa M. Hollier, MD, MPH, FACOG, chair, Texas District American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, in testimony to legislators.
Public funds for women's health care in Texas are strictly accounted for, and no public funds are used to pay for abortion. Planned Parenthood providers who participated in publicly-supported women's health programs do not provide abortions. Planned Parenthood health centers that participate in publicly-supported women's health programs are legally and financially separate, and annual state audits regarding these separation requirements have demonstrated our consistent and rigorous compliance with all laws and regulations.