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Anti-abortion access groups laud closures of ‘abortion-minded’ health care providers

Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/b346d0ecc7Thumb.jpg.jpgAs women’s health clinics across the state shutter and scale back services following massive family planning cuts by the Texas Legislature, abortion rights opponents are spreading congratulations for their efforts, suggesting the closures will translate into fewer abortions.

Groups like Texas Right to Life credit their work at the Capitol for the closures of Planned Parenthood clinics around Texas — even though group’s funding was are already prohibited from going toward abortions.

Aside from state and federal laws banning those dollars from making it to abortion clinics, Planned Parenthood is audited every other year by an independent firm, per a request by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, to ensure family planning clinics are in no way associated with abortion-providing clinics.

In the end, anti-abortion groups, claiming to protect women’s health, helped deprive hundreds of thousands of low-income women basic medical care like birth control and breast, cervical cancer and STD screenings. The slashes also guaranteed a number of Planned Parenthood and independent clinics would close.

According to the TRL blog (and confirmed by Planned Parenthood), seven North Texas Planned Parenthood locations, including sites in Arlington and Plano, are set to close by the end of September due to the budget cuts, while more independent family planning clinics plan to close their doors in the months to come.

The Republican-dominated Legislature cut about $74 million from the $111 million administered by the state’s Department of State Health Services, leaving roughly $38 million in the pool. Governor and GOP presidential hopeful **Rick Perry signed the measure into law **during a July ceremony.

Overall, up to 300,000 women are expected to be left without basic reproductive health care. Additionally, the Legislative Budget Board estimates the cuts could produce somewhere around 20,000 more unplanned pregnancies.

“Even though these clinics are family planning clinics — so there’s not actually any abortions being provided at the clinics that are closing their doors — there’s no mistake that these are abortion-minded clinics that are sending women to abortion clinics,” Texas Right to Life’s Legislative Director John Seago recently told pro-life site LifeSiteNews.com.

Despite that distinction, TRL praised their “successful strategy” for removing taxpayer money from the “abortion industry,” and said clinic closures are be the most effective way to protect pregnant women and their unborn children.

“Make no mistake, this wasn’t about tightening our belts because of a shrinking budget,” said Sarah Wheat of Planned Parenthood Texas Capital Region. “The funds were redirected from women’s health care to meet a political agenda. The result is a complete shredding of the women’s health care safety net.”

Smaller, independent clinics located in rural areas will be the hardest hit, says Fran Hagerty, CEO of the Women’s Health and Family Planning Association. At Hill Country Community Action Agency in the Central Texas city of San Marcos, she said five clinics are in the process of shutting down and staff layoffs have already taken place.

“We are going to feel the effects this year, and they are going to be huge and swift,” said Hagerty. “And it’s the low-income and border-cities that will feel it the most.”

The majority of the 72 family planning organizations in Texas are run by providers other than Planned Parenthood and, as of this week, Hagerty says most are being “left in the dark” by DSHS as to how to plan for the upcoming fiscal year.

The same anti-abortion groups praising the cuts are equally enthusiastic about an increase from $4 million per year to $4.15 million injected into the state’s Alternatives to Abortion Services Program, a fund that disburses money to faith-based and largely unregulated crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), nonprofits that provide ‘mentoring’, ‘counseling’ and material assistance to pregnant women but usually no medical services.

The CPCs­­­­ — guided by the goal of reducing the number of abortions — don’t fall under the purview of the HHSC, as Planned Parenthood does, even though the state agency has the authority to oversee the centers. Instead, the centers are reviewed by the Texas Pregnancy Care Network, the state contractor that doles out their funds.

The centers have a record of violations, including conflating religious and educational materials, found in more than half their site visits, as the Texas Independent previously reported.

“This is a boon to CPCs,” Hagerty said. “There will be without a doubt more unintended pregnancies, and more abortions as a consequence, and that certainly isn’t anyone’s intention.”

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