There’s terrible, disheartening news today for women and children in Oklahoma. The state is withdrawing federal funding from three Planned Parenthood clinics in Tulsa. The funding, which the clinics received for the past 18 years, was earmarked for the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program. It’s clear that Oklahoma legislators are out to get Planned Parenthood because of its association with birth control and abortions, but low-income mothers and children are the ones who will suffer from the state’s new policy.
According to the Associated Press,
The State Department of Health notified Planned Parenthood of the Heartland CEO Jill June last week that it would be terminating its contracts with the Tulsa facilities at the end of December.
Apparently, no reason was given for withdrawing the funding.
Planned Parenthood doesn’t just give out birth control and perform abortions; the clinics also provide STD testing, cancer screenings, HPV vaccinations, referrals to other agencies (like adoption agencies) and more. In this case, the funding that was pulled from Planned Parenthood was earmarked for the WIC program, a program that provides women, infants and children with food, nutritional counseling, breastfeeding support, infant formula, and more.
In other words, Planned Parenthood provides care for the full spectrum of reproductive health. And incidentally? None of the three clinics in Oklahoma even offer abortion services. Still, this isn’t enough for conservatives in Oklahoma. Republican State Rep. Jason Murphy said, of a failed 2011 bill, “We need to ensure that we’re not keeping clinics open on taxpayer dollars when one of their main emphases is abortion referrals.”
Planned Parenthood reports that their clinics in Oklahoma provided WIC services to over 3,000 women and children monthly. It’s pretty obvious that the subtraction of funds was politically motivated, but it’s neither just nor fair that thousands of needy people must now find a new place to get the support they need. WIC is one of the most important (not to mention one of the most successful and cost-effective) nutrition intervention programs. I agree with Jill June, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, whose statement about the funds read:
“We call on the State to allow us to continue to be a place Oklahoma women and families can trust for these health services. Politics should never interfere with a woman’s access to health services – or food for her children.”
Photo of Planned Parenthood in St. Paul, Minnesota courtesy of Flickr user fibonacciblue