This week, media outlets across the nation ran a misleading Associated Press article that implies Texas has failed in its attempts to replace Planned Parenthood with state-funded options. “Get by without Planned Parenthood?” the U.S. News and World Report headline asked, continuing “One Texas effort stumbles.”
The story that the media jumped on was, indeed, a singular, non-representative tale. But the text of the story came complete with an implication that not only had Texas failed, but also that the newly proposed Republican health care plan could be a door of doom as it defunds Planned Parenthood. The Associated Press reported:
In pushing a replacement for the Affordable Care Act that cuts off funds for Planned Parenthood, Republicans are out to reassure women who rely on the major health care organization that other clinics will step up to provide their low-cost breast exams, contraception and cancer screenings.
Texas is already trying to prove it. But one big bet is quietly sputtering, and in danger of teaching the opposite lesson conservatives are after.
The Associated Press story is about Carol Evertt’s The Heidi Group, which received money from the state, but says it has had trouble getting community clinics to cooperate so far. While that story is newsworthy, the media headlines used this singular story to present a generalization in which it implied that Planned Parenthood clearly could not survive defunding. But the media missed the big picture here. It’s one that Live Action News reported last month in this investigative analysis.
While Everett’s group may be experiencing struggles getting local clinics to cooperate with their efforts, the state of Texas has had no trouble providing healthcare to women who need non-abortive reproductive services. As Live Action News reported:
[T]he truth is, women in Texas are better off without Planned Parenthood because what the state did in place of the abortion corporation’s funding is even better.
I looked at the Texas program as if I were that single 20-something needing women’s health care. Excluding abortion, I looked for similar services through the expanded Healthy Texas Women program the state launched after defunding Planned Parenthood. The program has three sub-programs:
The Healthy Texas Women and Breast & Cervical Cancer Services offer free care to women who make less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Level guidelines, or $1980 a month for a single person. The Family Planning Program caps it at 250% of the Federal Poverty Level guidelines, or under $2475 for a single person.
Live Action News’ story reported on the many free services available for poor and uninsured Texas women — all across the state:
But what if I lived in rural east Texas, in a town without a stoplight, and needed to find a provider? It turns out that one clinic is close enough that I could have walked to it from my old address. When I expanded the search to clinics within 20 miles, I found seven providers. Some of them are affiliates of a major hospital system in the area, CHRISTUS Trinity-Mother Frances Health System. The state of Texas will send women to some of the best medical providers located in the region — and do it on the state’s dime — so women will have excellent health care, even if they cannot afford it.
And Planned Parenthood locations in the same rural area? Well, there’s one 34 miles away and another 59 miles away. That’s it.
The multitude of free services Texas provides at multiple locations, rural to urban, across the large state is testament to the fact that even if one lone program “stumbles” in the transition process, the state’s efforts to defund Planned Parenthood have actually left Texas women exponentially better off than they had been when Planned Parenthood was the one seeing the money.
Of course, Planned Parenthood makes sure Texas women are told they are being deprived, regardless of the reality of available services. With its hoards of income, Planned Parenthood can continue to be more vocal than The Heidi Group or other legitimate health care providers, which is why the big budget abortion corporation is getting a lot of attention. Planned Parenthood continues to perpetuate the lie that women have lost access to other health care services, besides abortion, since Texas’ defunding. Planned Parenthood Texas Votes has this message on its webpage:
If Texas had actually taken access to cancer screenings and well-woman exams from women, it would be cruel. But the only cruelty here is the fear tactics spread by a desperate abortion provider who is greedy for its money.
This week’s media report on the Heidi Group has been generalized to sound as if Texas’ efforts to defund Planned Parenthood have failed miserably and women are suffering as a result. The media implications here amount to irresponsible journalism because the reality is that Texas women have more access to free health care, as the actual facts show.