The El Paso Times is reporting that due to lack of funding, Planned Parenthood is closing all of its health-care centers (six in total) in El Paso, TX today. Sadly, this is not the first time that Planned Parenthood has been forced to close their clinics due to financial difficulties. In recent times, clinics in the West and Northern areas of Michigan, Lynchburg, West Virgina, Seattle and Latham, NY, were shut down for similar reasons.
Conservatives have shown a positive response to the news: they are glad that these clinics are being closed because they believe it will reduce the amount of abortions taking place. But the closings will do nothing to reduce abortions and might even cause an increase. Planned Parenthood (PP) offers not only family planning services but also health services for pregnant women. Because some of the services offered by PP help prevent both unwanted and unhealthy pregnancies, the closing of clinics will mean that women, especially low-income and immigrant women who do not have access to health care, will not have access to reproductive choices. This will have a particularly large impact on Latinas, since El Paso has such a high concentration of Latinas and many of them are low-income.
Another important point is that abortions are only a small portion of the services that Planned Parenthood offers. In some areas of the country, Planned Parenthood is actually the primary provider of gynecological services. For pregnant women, Planned Parenthood offers very important services such as pre-natal care and anti-smoking treatments and other services that improve their health and therefore increase the chances of them of bearing healthy children. The closing of these clinics will also have a negative impact on women suffering from STDs, urinary tract infections, and other infections that Planned Parenthood often treats. Also HIV and (cervical) cancer are other conditions that Planned Parenthood provides services for. This means that many women, those pregnant and those who aren’t, will be suffer the negative effect of this lack of funding.
What is even more alarming is that, due to the financial crisis, services that Planned Parenthood offers have actually become more critical and more needed. An article on the Mercury News argued that, since more and more people are losing their jobs and their medical care, more women “are taking steps to avoid having a child” because they are concerned that they will not be able to afford it. Planned Parenthood clinics in Northern California, like many other family-planning clinics and gynecologists, are experiencing higher volume of women visiting their clinics and requesting family-planning services.
Planned Parenthood Executive Director Analinda Moreno recently told the media that the closing of these clinics in El Paso was one of the hardest decisions they have had to make.
Contributed by Carolina Rizzo, DC Policy Intern