providing necessary care
Despite massive funding cuts, Planned Parenthood stands strong in East Austin
The war for women’s health continues. Despite efforts to cut its funding, Planned Parenthood stands strong — ensuring Austin’s uninsured women have the basic right to healthcare.
The last time we talked to Planned Parenthood in August, it was becoming completely defunded. The Department of State Health Services notified the organization that its downtown location’s funding would be revoked starting September 1st.
But thanks to Planned Parenthood’s hard work and Austin’s support, the downtown clinic is still open for business. And it has enough funds to continue providing free services to its patients until next September.
The clinic off of East 7th Street has been open for over 70 years. It is just one of three locations in Austin, and all of them serve 33,000 clients each year. This location provides free breast and cervical cancer screenings, free tests for Sexually Transmitted Infections, birth control and a proven successful teen pregnancy prevention program for parents and adolescents.
In just a few short months following the funding notification, Planned Parenthood mobilized the Austin community under the Austin Stands With Planned Parenthood campaign.
In fact, Sarah Wheat, Interim Co-CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region, has been overwhelmed by the community’s response. She states that Planned Parenthood has amassed over 800 local Austinites, who “have donated a total of $345,000 which has provided free health screenings and exams to 379 clients to date.”
She says that everyone at Planned Parenthood feels “rewarded and proud that over 300 clients can be seen with these funds.” She continues that Austinites have not just donated to a good cause; they have donated to directly change lives.
Many previous clients donated to Planned Parenthood. One woman says: “When I was a broke single mother, Planned Parenthood was my only doctor.”
And another proclaims: “Planned Parenthood literally saved my life through cervical cancer screening, which I could not afford anywhere else.”
The women whom Planned Parenthood serves are as diverse as the Austin population itself. Women range from 18-35 years old. They are mothers, students, immigrants, children, families and hard workers. Most work two jobs; unfortunately, the jobs just do not provide the insurance necessary to cover life-saving preventative healthcare.
One man Planned Parenthood profiled says that the organization was there for him to provide education:
“Throughout my life, with minimum wage jobs or in school, Planned Parenthood has been there when I’ve needed their screening services. The added bonus with Planned Parenthood is that their staff asks questions that help to eradicate myths about men’s health, STI’s and pregnancy. I’m forever grateful that Planned Parenthood is the best source for men and women looking to empower themselves with sexual health information.”
Another woman says Planned Parenthood saved her life when she couldn’t afford a cancer screening anywhere else:
“Planned Parenthood continued to provide — require actually — basic health screenings such as weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and a gynecological exams long as I was receiving birth control services. It was on one of these exams that Planned Parenthood staff found pre-cancerous cells on my pap smear and arranged for me to have early treatment for cervical cancer from one of the physicians in the community. If not for that exam, I might not be alive today.”
Wheat says that one in five women go to Planned Parenthood at some point in their lives. But since the funding cuts, Austin has lost 1.4 million dollars to treat Austin’s women.
Now, more than ever, the organization continues to need Austin’s support. Planned Parenthood continues to accept donations. And each dollar donated to the campaign will go directly to the downtown clinic: directly to the women who need it the most.