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Fact Check: Yes, Women Can Go Elsewhere If Planned Parenthood Closes


Vox claims that if the federal government were to pull its funds to Planned Parenthood, many women would lose access to health care. But actually, there really are plenty of federally funded healthcare providers that could fill the void were Planned Parenthood to lose tax dollars or close clinics.

Using statistics from the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice organization that operates as basically the research arm of Planned Parenthood, Vox states that Planned Parenthood is the only publicly funded contraceptives provider in 103 counties nationwide, and that they serve a majority of low-income women in 229 counties.

At first glance, this statistic seems suggest that if Planned Parenthood locations were to close or lose funding, women in hundreds of counties would lose access to contraception — but the situation in Texas discredits that assumption altogether.

Since 2012, the Lone Star State has ceased to fund Planned Parenthood clinics within its borders. Instead, women can rely on the Women’s Health Program, a network of clinics that distribute contraception and provide other health services. The other clinics within the network essentially replaced Planned Parenthood.

The other clinics within the network essentially replaced Planned Parenthood.

“According to a study by George Washington University, this resulted in community clinics increasing their women’s health care services by an average of 81 percent,” The Daily Signal reported.

History tells us that if those Planned Parenthood clinics were to close within those 103 counties as a result of losing federal funds, other clinics would be able to fill in the gap, and eventually replace them. Additionally, there are over 13,000 community health centers in the United States, compared to 900 Planned Parenthood locations, and these health centers actually offer more services than Planned Parenthood, like mammograms.

Community Health Centers Can Handle The Extra Patients

Vox points out that Planned Parenthood clinics see more patients for contraceptive purposes than do other health centers. They say that a Planned Parenthood clinic sees an average of 2,950 birth control patients per year, while public health centers see only 750, and federally qualified health centers see 330 annually. These numbers give the impression that if Planned Parenthood were defunded, thousands of new patients would swarm community health centers that wouldn’t be able to handle the increase.

The truth is, by their own estimation, Planned Parenthood sees about 2.7 million patients for birth control annually. If these women went to any of the 13,000 community health centers instead, that would amount to about one additional patient every other day for these health centers.

Texas Isn’t The Worst

Vox excoriates Texas as the worst place ever for women’s health. They say that after the state decided to stop funding Planned Parenthood, their Women’s Health Program provided care to 9 percent fewer women than in 2011. That statistic is true. Additionally, Texas saw a 26 percent drop in Medicaid claims and 54 percent fewer contraceptive claims. These numbers may sound alarming. The decrease in claims for Medicaid and contraception combined with the fact that fewer women are getting care sounds like many low-income women have been hurt by defunding Planned Parenthoods in Texas.

But, as the Daily Signal reported:

In 2013, right after Texas ousted the organization, Planned Parenthood clinics in the state agreed to pay $4.3 million to settle a federal civil suit brought by the Justice Department under President Obama. The suit claimed the organization fraudulently billed Medicaid for women’s health care services such as birth control from 2003 to 2009.

So the drop in claims could really be evidence that Planned Parenthood stopped cooking their books after getting busted by the DOJ.

Half A Million Women Won’t Lose Health Care

Vox claims that between 130,000 to 630,000 women “would lose access to care” if Planned Parenthood were to be defunded. This statement is based off of a recent Congressional Budget Office report, but if you read it carefully, that’s not what the report says. The report claims that somewhere between 5 and 25 percent of women who rely on Planned Parenthood “would face reduced access to care.” That could mean they would need to drive further away to receive taxpayer funded contraception. Using Texas as a case study however, it’s clear that community health centers have the capacity to replace Planned Parenthood, so it’s unlikely that so many women would be stranded without health care.

This suggests that defunding Planned Parenthood could actually decrease the abortion rate.

Delivering and caring for a baby is more expensive than just aborting it, Vox reported (as if that needs to be substantiated). The CBO estimates defunding Planned Parenthood would cost taxpayers $130 million over the course of 10 years, due to the rise in unplanned pregnancies leading to children that taxpayers would have to support. Based on how the CBO arrived at its earlier 5 and 25 percent figures, their estimations of the rates of unintended pregnancies seem rather arbitrary. Indeed, the evidence seems to point to the opposite effect—defunding Planned Parenthood seems to potentially have a correlation with a decrease in abortion rates.

After Planned Parenthood was defunded in Texas, abortion rates plummeted. From 2012 to 2013, they decreased by 6.5 percent, while the pregnancy rates remained roughly the same. This suggests that defunding Planned Parenthood could actually decrease the abortion rate.

So, yes, women can just “go somewhere else” if lawmakers defund Planned Parenthood.