Punishing patients in the name of an anti-abortion agenda has one predictable consequence: measurable, demonstrable harm to public health.
When Texas defunded Planned Parenthood and similar providers in the state, women's access to reproductive and sexual health care dived. Estimates in 2018 indicated that at least 30,000 Texas women — and as many as 44,890 — lost access to care.
In Iowa, a law led to the closure of four Planned Parenthood health centers, displacing nearly 15,000 patients — many of whom had no place else to go for STI tests, Pap tests, and other services provided through Title X. Rates of gonorrhea in one part of Iowa affected by the closures have since almost quadrupled.
Same story in Missouri: Last year, the state legislature barred patients from using their Medicaid coverage for STI tests and treatment, as well as other preventive care, at Planned Parenthood health centers. This action is sure to worsen the state’s disastrous and ongoing spread of STIs; since 2012, the total number of syphilis patients has more than quadrupled across the state.
Bottom line: When anti-abortion politicians block access to care in the name of “defunding” Planned Parenthood health centers, public health suffers — and patients lose access to essential, preventive care, including birth control, cancer screenings, well-woman exams, and STI tests and treatment.