Texas Hasn’t Been Able to Fully Defund Planned Parenthood, So It Did This Instead

When HIV rates in Texas soar, show this to your friends.

Jarun Ontakrai/Shutterstock

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


In the final days of 2015, while most were preparing for Christmas and the New Year, the state of Texas presented a different sort of holiday surprise: The Texas Department of State Health Services announced that at the start of 2016 it would cut off about $600,000 in funding for HIV prevention services provided by Planned Parenthood. The state has provided this funding to the women’s health provider for nearly 30 years.

The state gave no reason, saying simply that “there will be no further renewals of this contract” in its notice to Planned Parenthood.

“The state cuts these programs in an attempt to score political points,” Rochelle Tafolla, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, told the Texas Tribune. “The true victims here are tens of thousands of women and men who no longer have access to health care that they need.”

Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast—the only Planned Parenthood affiliate that receives this grant—has used this money since 1988 to fund more than 138,000 HIV tests, HIV and STI counseling and education programs, and prevention services such as condom distribution in five counties in the Houston area. The program takes HIV testing outside clinics, to locations such as jails, nightclubs, and college campuses. Harris County, one of the regions covered by the now-defunded program, diagnosed 1,289 new HIV cases in 2014—more than any county in the state.

The roughly $600,000 used for the program was administered by the state of Texas as part of a federal grant for HIV prevention from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2015, that grant totaled more than $13 million. It’s unclear what Texas will do with the funds previously allocated to Planned Parenthood. A health department spokesperson told the Texas Tribune that they are “working with local health departments in the area” to continue to provide the HIV prevention services that Planned Parenthood had provided for decades.

This defunding move came two months after Texas’ health officials announced that the state would pull Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood over alleged “acts of misconduct” revealed in selectively edited undercover videos released last summer by the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress. Three days after the initial defunding announcement in October, investigators went to Planned Parenthood clinics in four cities to demand extensive records on Medicaid and billing. State health officials claimed they had proof of Medicaid fraud by Planned Parenthood, but they haven’t actually produced this proof. They also have yet to deliver the “final notice of termination” to formally defund Planned Parenthood, so for now the organization is able to continue providing health care services to low-income women in Texas who are on Medicaid.

This situation has precedents with bleak consequences. After Indiana passed a bill defunding Planned Parenthood in 2011, a federal judge overturned the bill, but legislators found other ways to chip at the women’s health provider’s funding. Over the next two years, five rural Planned Parenthood clinics across the state that offered HIV testing but not abortions were forced to shutter. Following their closures, the state saw an alarming HIV outbreak in some of those rural areas.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate