Want state funding? Drop affiliation with Planned Parenthood!

In 2011, the state of Texas decided to cut off state funding from abortion providers, namely Planned Parenthood. The reason was not to deny healthcare to women, but rather to concentrate finances on those clinics which actually provided legitimate healthcare. The people of Texas had decided that they had had enough of using taxpayer dollars to fund clinics affiliated with abortion.

These clinics did not have to lose such funding, though. If a clinic was so concerned about having enough finances to help women, to truly do so, that clinic could simply stop affiliating itself with abortion providers.

Well, one clinic has done just that, proving that such a suggestion. Such a move demonstrates that such a call to drop one’s affiliation is not one which carries no weight.

The Texas Tribune, which openly admits being sponsored by Planned Parenthood, reports that “Hidalgo County Clinics Cut Ties with Planned Parenthood.”

Reporting from The San Antonio Express-News mentions that “[t]he five clinics have never provided abortions, officials said.” Regardless, by operating as Planned Parenthood affiliates, these clinics still did have a relationship with the nation’s largest abortion provider, a reason enough to be unqualified for state funding.

The Planned Parenthood Association of Hidalgo County will now instead operate as the Access Esperanza Clinics Inc. As a result of the 2011 law, and until cutting ties, the clinics have faced many setbacks, namely closures, but also cutting back on staff, hours, and services.

CEO Patricio C. Gonzales mentions this in a letter posted on the website for the newly named group. Gonzales also provides explanation for the motivation behind the split and a reflection on the need for healthcare to low-income patients. The Texas Tribune also mentions that Gonzales said they “probably should’ve done this two or three years ago.”

From the letter, dated September 15:

This is a difficult but practical solution to ensure our community has access to vital health services. Changing our name and affiliation allows our agency to apply for state health programs and make low-cost services more available for thousands of our low-income women, men, and teens. Patient services continue as usual without interruption, and we welcome new patients.

…Tragedy struck our family when my beloved brother, Santiago, was diagnosed with testicular cancer as a young teenager. He struggled with the disease for four years and finally succumbed to it when he was only 18 years old. Prevention and early detection saves lives. Our board of directors and I are committed to ensuring as many people as possible in Hidalgo County have opportunities for affordable health care. That’s what our change to Access Esperanza is all about— giving more people opportunities and hope for brighter futures.

Although our name is changing, our dedication to patient services remains the same. We hope to be approved for the state’s Texas Women’s Health Program services by October 2014 and plan to apply for other programs to expand our range of primary care services. Our current wellness services will continue, as will our Breast Health Project, which provides free diagnostic services for eligible patients with suspicious breast masses.

Also on the website is an in-depth list of services provided. It is noteworthy that there is an explanation on when to schedule exams, when exams may be needed more often, and a statement that they “report all cases of suspected child abuse as required by law.” Services are grouped by their scope, and include “Wellness Exams,”  with a note that “diabetes and cholesterol testing and management” will be available soon, and various types of “Birth Control.” “Life-saving Exams and Tests” include “Pap Tests & HPV Tests,” “Breast Exam,” “Testicular Exam,” “STD/STI Testing,” “Rapid HIV Tests,” and “Pregnancy Tests.”

Gonzales and Access Esperanza Clinics Inc. seem to be more at peace now that there is no longer The Planned Parenthood Association of Hidalgo County. This would certainly seem to make sense now that the organization can focus on providing its patients with real, legitimate healthcare.

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