Texas was one of 26 states that enacted 69 anti-choice measures in 2011, and the effects of those measures on women’s health are now becoming starkly evident. Anti-choice public health policies advanced by the state’s Republican are leaving the poor and uninsured women of Hidalgo County with limited sources for the birth control and healthcare they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
The Planned Parenthood Association of Hidalgo County is the largest provider of publicly funded family planning services along the Texas/Mexico border, serving 21,000 mostly poor and Latino clients each year. Though none of its locations perform abortions, Planned Parenthood’s clinics have been impacted by budget cuts targeting family planning. Since September 2011, state budget cuts have forced Planned Parenthood to close four of its eight clinics in Hidalgo County. This pattern is typical throughout Texas: Even in cities like Austin and Dallas, clinics have cut operating hours or shut down completely.
Patricio Gonzalez, of Hidalgo County’s Planned Parenthood network puts the cuts into human perspective: “85 to 90 percent of our clients live below the federal poverty line. They’re uninsured and many of them have two or three children and don’t want any more. Basic healthcare access is just very bad here so the women don’t get [regular] screenings for STIs or cancers, and when they do get them they often need more diagnostic services because they’ve delayed care. You’ll hear them say, ‘I don’t have $60 or $100 for this lab test, or this ultrasound or this mammogram.’” Reduced public services force women lacking cash, credit or private health insurance to seek care across the border In Mexico.
As Akiba Solomon of Color Lines writes, Texas “offers a striking example of the collateral damage that’s inevitable when anti-choice Republicans use the legislative equivalent of drone strikes to attack abortion rights.”
Akiba Solomon, “Collateral Damage in the War on Women,” Color Lines News for Action, October 11, 2012, http://colorlines.com/archives/2012/10/collateral_damage_in_the_war_on_women.html
Student Researcher: Madai Jimenez (College of Marin)
Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman (College of Marin)