Alabama Cuts Funding To Planned Parenthood
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
Fallout continues from a series of sting videos targeting Planned Parenthood. The videos show a Planned Parenthood doctor talking about donating fetal tissue for research in what critics say is a cavalier manner. In response, three states this week announced they are cutting funding for the women's health group - Alabama, New Hampshire and Louisiana. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal described the situation this way during a Republican debate on Thursday.
(SOUNDBITE OF DEBATE)
BOBBY JINDAL: This is absolutely disgusting and revolts the conscience of the nation. Absolutely we need to defund Planned Parenthood. In my own state, for example, we launched an investigation, asked the FBI to cooperate. We just, earlier this week, kicked them out of Medicaid.
WERTHEIMER: NPR's Jennifer Ludden is following the controversy. Jennifer, three states cut funding to Planned Parenthood just this week. Do you expect more to follow?
JENNIFER LUDDEN, BYLINE: I don't know, Linda, but they may well. This has clearly touched a nerve. The video - a lot of politicians have expressed outrage, and a number of others have said they're investigating Planned Parenthood in their states. But, you know, these are not the first three states to defund Planned Parenthood. A handful have done that, over a number of years, largely because Planned Parenthood is the country's largest provider of abortion.
WERTHEIMER: Now, if states take away funds, what about other sources of money? Doesn't Planned Parenthood get funding from Medicaid?
LUDDEN: It does, and that actually could pose a bit of a legal hiccup here. Louisiana and Alabama both said they're cutting their state funding with Medicaid, but courts have said you can't do that. The federal government has said you can't pick and choose who's going to be in your program just because some of them provide abortions. Now, when Texas tried to do this a few years ago, Texas said, OK, fine. We're not going to take federal money from Medicaid. And they, at great expense, just set up their own health program. Other states have backed down, but there's some wiggle room. They can cut funding from Title X, this other federally funded family planning program, or, you know, find other ways in the state budget to kind of chip away.
WERTHEIMER: Now, in the states that have already defunded Planned Parenthood, can you see a big impact?
LUDDEN: You absolutely can. Texas - a study just out this spring - found that a quarter of the state's family-planning clinics have closed. The ones who are left are only serving half as many women as before. The state's own study this year found 30,000 fewer women in Texas getting healthcare through its programs. That means fewer cancer screenings, less testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and, of course, less birth control. Health experts say that the upshot of this will be more unplanned births and more abortions. In Indiana, which has also cut funding to Planned Parenthood, you might recall a big story this spring of an HIV outbreak there. The government called it an epidemic. That happened in the county where the state cuts forced a Planned Parenthood clinic to shut down two years ago.
WERTHEIMER: NPR's Jennifer Ludden, thank you very much.
LUDDEN: Thank you.
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