Texas Anti-Choice Lawmakers, Non-Profits, Unable or Unwilling To Provide Planned Parenthood Alternatives?

I sat there in front of Texas House Representative Dan Flynn, and told him my story, right there in his office, which is decorated with model airplanes and packets of elect-Dan-Flynn gum. I told him about how I was at risk for cervical cancer. About how I had lost my health insurance when I lost my job last month. About how I didn’t know how I was going to pay to continue going to my private doctor to keep up with follow-up screenings to the cone biopsy I’d underwent last year. About how I was here to tell him that Planned Parenthood could provide affordable cancer screenings for me to keep me healthy, even though I had no insurance.

He told me he heard me. He told me he understood. Then, the staunchly anti-choice conservative representing Van Zandt County waved a spreadsheet and a little map around, and told me there were so many alternatives to Planned Parenthood! That the wealth needed to be spread around a little bit, because there were so many places I could go besides Planned Parenthood, which provides so much health care for women, we need to give others the chance to do so.

I asked Flynn to tell me about some alternative providers in the Dallas area. He glanced at the list, rattled off some names that I barely caught–something about Dallas County Hospital District and Dallas Emergency Services–and then went on to tell me and the group of women who’d traveled to the Capitol to speak to him that he believed Planned Parenthood auditors were crooked liars who fudged the numbers so that the non-profit could use public funds for their abortion industry, and that he knew this because he was a former bank examiner and had heard some things from some people.

Please remember: Dan Flynn and conservatives like him believe that Planned Parenthood absolutely must be entirely defunded in order to preserve a culture of “life” in this country.

That was on Tuesday, March 8. The next morning, I called and e-mailed Dan Flynn’s office, asking to be given a copy of the spreadsheet or map he’d had of alternatives to Planned Parenthood where I could go to get an affordable cervical cancer screening. After calling and e-mailing back a couple times, his office told me, on March 10, to e-mail the Texas Alliance For Life, who could provide me with such a list.

So, on March 10, I e-mailed the Texas Alliance for Life. I asked them–well, I’ll just post it here. This is the e-mail I sent:

Hi, TX Alliance for Life -

I was referred to you by the office of Rep. Dan Flynn. I’m looking for a comprehensive list of alternatives to Planned Parenthood–when I visited with Rep. Flynn this week he referenced a document that appeared to be just such a thing. Karah Carr, a legislative aide for Rep. Flynn, tells me the Alliance for Life provided it. I was wondering if I could get a copy of the same list?

Thanks!
Andrea

I haven’t heard back from them. I’ve also tweeted at both Flynn and the Alliance asking for the list of alternative health care providers who can give me the same or better care as Planned Parenthood. No response.

I need a follow-up pap smear in the next month or so to confirm that my cervix is clear of abnormal lesions after my cone biopsy last fall. I called my private doctor–without insurance, I’ll pay $155 for the office visit, not including lab tests, which will certainly have to be conducted. I called Planned Parenthood–there, I’ll pay between $93 and $109 for the total cervical cancer screening, plus get a breast exam, full pelvic and potentially low-cost birth control, too. Which I also need.

So that’s probably three or four hundred dollars to my private doctor, for the office visit and labs. Or $109 to Planned Parenthood.

Or who-knows-how-much to who-knows-who, because those who want me to go somewhere other than Planned Parenthood apparently don’t want that to happen badly enough that they’ll, you know, tell me the alternatives they approve of.

About andrea grimes

Andrea is a journalist living in Austin, TX. She has a master's degree in anthropology and did her thesis work on gender and stand-up comedy. Seriously. Also, she has a bunch of cats. Three of them. Is three a bunch? Discuss.
This entry was posted in abortion, activism, health care, politics, reproductive health. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Texas Anti-Choice Lawmakers, Non-Profits, Unable or Unwilling To Provide Planned Parenthood Alternatives?

  1. Holly says:

    I was there, and I can barely believe the crap he spewed. Go Andrea!!!

  2. Andrew says:

    There are plenty of options for women who are in need.

    You may have never heard of Federally Qualified Health Centers, or “look alikes,” centers that perform all the services of an FQHC but are not federally funded. They may go under different names, and even perform different services, but they take clients with or without Medicaid and Medicare and offer sliding scale and reduced fees. There are thousands of these centers in our country — almost 400 in Texas.

    These clinics may offer vision, dental services, cancer screening and treatment, substance abuse, transportation, translation and case management. Some of these health centers include care for the entire family.

    Check the following sources:

    findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov: info to centers close to you and what they provide. I found 7 in the Dallas area.

    nbccedp.org: National Breast Cancer and Early Detection Program for reduced-rate services locally

    nachc.org: National Association of Community Health Centers Find local centers and what they provide.

    texascancer.info: Source of cancer screening and treatment for those in need

    • joereform says:

      Andrew, stop posting here. It’s too hard to maintain the accusation that pro-lifers hate women when you go around trying to help Andrea out with links to low-cost feminine health care.

    • lila says:

      I was interested to see what I would find using your sites, for scientific purposes of course, and I’ll need a pap smear before the end of the year, so… Let’s see how this worked:

      http://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/Search_HCC.aspx

      Nearest place is 32 m away. It’s not clear on the reproductive services (which is what I NEED, remember?) provided, it just says:

      They have 2 family practice physicians…

      https://www.nbccedp.org/cgi-bin/index.pl

      Unknown, I’m not going to join ANYTHING so I can get a what should be a confidential check-up and they have no business trying to pry into my life.

      http://nachc.org/default.cfm

      Another one that requires a membership that I will not subscribe to.

      http://texascancer.info/

      Well, that one’s useless because I don’t live in Texas.

      http://www.plannedparenthood.org/

      Nearest one is also 32m away

      Services Offered
      * Abortion Services
      * Birth Control Services
      * Emergency Contraception
      * General Health Care
      * HIV Testing
      * HPV & Hepatitis Vaccines
      * LGBT Services
      * Men’s Health Services
      * Patient Education
      * Pregnancy Testing, Options & Services
      * Women’s Health Services

      Wow… That is pretty clear and straight forward… Do you have any other links? If not, I’d be more than happy to go to Planned Parenthood since they seem to be the best at what they do, after all they were kind enough to list the exact service I was looking for…

  3. joereform says:

    To preface my remarks, I know next-to-nothing about Dan Flynn. He may be a total ignoramus. However, I do not understand the point of discussing this with a Texas state rep when it is the U.S. Congress who authorizes Title X. If I am missing something, please fill me in.

    I would understand canvassing the Texas Senate about the sonogram bill. I honestly don’t get what you were trying to accomplish by talking to Flynn about Title X and Planned Parenthood, unless it was just some general “awareness raising.”

  4. I was at a look-alike clinic just a few weeks ago. They were a particularly well-equipped clinic, one of the best I’ve seen, but they did not have the ability to do cryotherapy or LEEP, which are 2 of the most common treatments for women whose pap smears show them to have pre-cancerous cells which, left untreated, will likely lead to cervical cancer.

    They are also, by the way, desperate to open new clinics because of demand. Their dental clinic has a 3-month wait for an appointment.

    Many FHQCs I’ve visited, or a friend has visited (we’re doing so in a professional capacity, not just taking a random tour of health clinics) have limited days or hours for OB/GYNs or NPs specializing in women’s health.

    Planned Parenthoods specialize in women’s health 100% of the time, not just on Thursday afternoons and Friday mornings. Almost all PPs are open on Saturday, to boot. Many have the capacity to do cryotherapy and LEEP onsite.

    Something else to consider: even with ALL of the PP clinics and FHQCs and look-alike clinics, hundreds of thousands of people across the state still go without treatment or rely on emergency rooms for treatment because wait times can be so long. Our current ‘safety net’ of medical service providers has stretched way beyond capacity.

    Eliminating Planned Parenthoods will flood other providers with people seeking treatment that, frankly, many of them do not want to provide.

    They don’t want to provide it – they don’t want more patients who are refugees from PPs – not because they are opposed to it (although no doubt some are–like the one look-alike clinic my friend visited with crucifixes on every wall & a mandatory talk about Jesus after your appointment) but because they don’t have the capacity and capability to provide those services on the scale that will be required. They don’t have money to retrain staff. They don’t have money to buy necessary equipment. They don’t have enough chairs in the waiting room or spaces in the parking lot. They don’t have enough staff to manage the billing, or room to keep patient files in a manner that complies with HIPPA.

    Like it or not, Planned Parenthood is a critical part of our country’s preventive health care system, a system which is either barely holding it together or just past holding it together.

    So sure, there may be 7 FQHCs in Dallas. But Dallas also has 5 Planned Parenthood clinics. What do you think would happen to wait times if the patients from 5 Planned Parenthoods suddenly had to be absorbed by 7 FHQCs? And can you guarantee they can provide the same level or care? The websites for over half of them did not even mention birth control!

    This rambles a bit, I know, but people are ill-informed if they think our state is crawling with clinics that can just step up and fill the void we’d have if Planned Parenthood disappeared.

  5. Andrew says:

    Nonsequiteuse, interesting points you raise.

    “They are also, by the way, desperate to open new clinics because of demand.” – Indeed, that is exactly why the Texas Legislature will vote on legislation to transfer up to 12 million dollars from Planned Parenthood to other clinics so they can handle this demand. This is for primary, comprehensive care for women (which Planned Parenthood does not provide) which includes cryotherapy (just have to find the right clinic).

    The legislation does not shut down Planned Parenthood, it only removes tax-payer funding from them. Planned Parenthood can continue to survive on their own, and as a matter of fact, Cecile Richards, the current President, said they would be fine if they were de-funded. So those 5 PP clinics in Dallas you mention can continue to operate.

    • If it’s truly about increasing health care access for women, why is it an either/or game? Surely Planned Parenthood can offer specialty reproductive care that women need (since, as conservatives believe, motherhood and childbearing are the most important activities women can engage in) and we can allocate money that might otherwise be spent on, say, the death penalty or defense contracts, to low-cost comprehensive health care clinics.

      But you don’t hear “pro-life” organizations demand the de-funding of capital punishment or calling for reductions in defense spending. Because being “pro-life” is not about increasing health care or bettering the quality of life of children. It’s about keeping women poor, pregnant and ashamed.

      (FWIW, if I have to “find the right clinic” to get cryotherapy, and that’s the best a “look-alike” clinic can offer, they’re about 35 years behind modern gynecological practice.)

      • Andrew says:

        Nice try at changing the subject, but most pro-life groups I am aware of are opposed to the death penalty.

        The bottom line is that there are many concerns with the continued tax-payer funding of an organization that does not provide comprehensive, primary care for women when there are plenty of clinics that do that are in desperate need of that funding.

        By comprehensive I mean dental care, chiropractic care, vaccinations, mammograms, very little or no prenatal care, the diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol etc..

        The fact that Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms is shocking. Mammograms are a primary treatment for the detection of breast cancer, one of the largest health issues that women face. Are they really interested in women’s health?

      • Planned Parenthood provides referrals to low-cost mammograms. They’ve never said they provide them on-site. The fact that you’re harping on about mammograms, which anti-choicers know to be a false talking point, demonstrates the lengths to which anti-choicers have to go to be “right.” I get it–the sky is purple, and grass is red.

  6. Andrew says:

    Actually, Cecile Richards, the President of Planned Parenthood, claimed on nation TV (the Joy Behar show) that one of the services women would be denied if they were de-funded was mammograms, which is decidedly not true since they do not provide them. Any referrals they give go to non-planned parenthood clinics, like the FQHC’s that desperately need more funding.

    That’s one of the big issues here, the integrity of the organization. And it’s just one reason why tax-payers should not be forced to fund them.

    • You must have watched a different Cecile Richards interview with Joy Behar. Because this is the one I watched:

      http://jezebel.com/#!5787490/another-sting-video-tries-and-fails-to-trap-planned-parenthood-on-mammograms

    • Dan Mortenson says:

      So lets see how this worked.

      You said some shit that wasn’t at all true, that you therefore must have gotten straight out of the Reich media (because you obviously didn’t check it out for yourself). And then you used that [secondhand lie] to extract some more shit about the integrity of PP, and added that to your list of bad things that (you said) they’d done.

      But all it takes is one link, to show everyone what a lying bag of …

      And I guess that’s why you never got back to her on it. You just stay on your own websites now, okay? Because there will never be people there to bring in reality, to rub your nose in it.

  7. Andrew says:

    Did you even watch that video? You are proving my point.

  8. Pingback: Texas Sex and Gender News Roundup | HAY LADIES!

  9. Andrew says:

    Senator Barbara Boxer also thinks that Planned Parenthood provides mammograms.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/nov05election/detail?entry_id=85680&tsp=1

    Alaska US Senators: “”More fundamentally, without the care Planned Parenthood provides — without access to Pap smears, pelvic exams and breast exams — women will die,” the senators said.

    http://www.adn.com/2011/03/27/1778402/planned-parenthood-fighting-loss.html

    Women will die? Seriously?

    And speaking of mammograms, I do not consider them to be “false talking points.” They are the crux of the issue in determining who is really providing for women the kinds of things they really need.

    • A mammogram is not a breast exam. They are different things. A breast exam is a standard exam done by a doctor where they feel a woman’s breast for lumps. If things seem suspicious, a woman is then referred to a mammogram provider. Often women do home breast exams, but because of the variation in breast tissue, it’s a great idea to have a trained professional provide this since alarm bells may or may not go off falsely when women do them at home alone.

      And yes, women die without pap smears and pelvic exams. They die of cervical cancer. It kills them in their late 30’s. Until pap smears became mainstream, women died all the time of cervical cancer. All. The. Time.

      Of course, I’m guessing since your name is “Andrew,” you might not need or get breast exams–or, for that matter, a pap smear or prenatal care–on a regular basis, which just goes to show how much business you have talking about any of this in the first place.

      • Yep, pap smears detect possible cervical cancer, pelvic exams detect possible problems with the ovaries and uterus, and breast exams detect possible breast lumps. In Ohio, where I live, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention Project refers patients (low-income women in their 50s and older) to Planned Parenthood clinics for free pap/pelvic/breast exams (collectively referred to as “well woman” exams). We do good work, but I’ve met too many dudes (granted, most of them were not-too-smart college dudes) who consider any healthcare related to women’s naughty bits to be worthy of nothing but ridicule.

    • Aunt Snow says:

      I know someone who did die because she was unable to afford screening for breast cancer in a timely manner.

  10. Annie says:

    At Planned Parenthood in PA, I receive well woman exams yearly. At these I am tested, I get a pap smear, I get a breast exam. I also visit Planned Parenthood almost monthly for prescription birth control, because they are the only place (and yes, I DID look into it) that will give it to me for under $50 a month. Being that I am a college student living on a part-time job, too responsible to rely on my parents for money, and sharing the cost with my boyfriend, Planned Parenthood IS the best option for me.

  11. Pingback: Alternatives to Planned Parenthood in Dallas? I found no such thing. | HAY LADIES!

  12. Annapolitan says:

    Did Andrew check any of those links out himself before he gave them to you as a show of how many resources there are? Because I checked each and every one and here is what I found.

    findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov: About the only useful link. I typed in my zip code and I received a list of clinics in my area. (I don’t live in Texas.) The closest one was 10 miles away; all the rest were 20 miles away or more.

    nachc.org: This is an advocacy site for community health centers. They do have a link so a visitor can find a local community health center, but that takes you right to the findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov link above. So this is really a duplicate of the first link.

    nbccedp.org: Plugged this address into my browser and got a page that demanded my username and password, and that’s it. There doesn’t appear to be a search feature or links to local providers. It looks like some sort of advocacy or proprietary website for those who work in the cancer screening field.

    texascancer.info: This has links for each county in Texas, and some of these links are also available in Spanish. Click on any of the links and you are taken to a PDF brochure that appears to be identical for each county, with only the name of the county changed. A patient is instructed to call the phone number listed or drop by the office, but the addresses listed all appear to be post office boxes, so I’m not sure how someone is supposed to “drop by.” For example, for Glasscock County, this is the ONE address provided:
    Glasscock County
    P.O Box 67
    Garden City, TX 79739
    (432) 354-2382

  13. Paul (the triffid guy) says:

    Andrea, thank you for pointing out exactly how much Planned Parenthood helps, and I’d like to add that it does a lot for men, too. Due to various health issues, my wife simply can’t take chances on having children, and we really weren’t bothered by not being parents, so I did the responsible thing and had a vasectomy. I’ll give you the punchline first and state that I did it with Planned Parenthood: I had a great doctor who did an excellent job, and everyone involved was extremely professional and caring. The cost was a little over $400, and we discovered that PP couldn’t take our insurance, so I had to pay that out-of-pocket.

    As I said, I gave you the punchline. The problem was getting to that point. We received a lot of recommendations from friends and family on urologists who performed vasectomies, so we went with one recommended by two friends who’d had theirs done by said doctor. I also want to note that many of those urologists’s receptionists either told me I’d have to wait months to be slipped into the schedule, or they never bothered to call back. This one had receptionists who told us, sure, our insurance was good, and I could get in on a Tuesday afternoon. I took the afternoon off, ready to get it over and done with.

    Okay, first sign this guy was willing to take the money if a patient was really determined: a particularly thick stack of paperwork. Every other page had warnings that I had to sign stating that if the insurance didn’t cover the procedure, I’d be responsible for the whole $1600(!) and have to pay it in advance. I was then shuttled into a room to watch a particularly annoying video, apparently to reassure yuppies and yahoos that they’d still be a man if they got snipped, and told “We’ll get going after you watch this.”

    10 minutes later, I was shuttled into the doctor’s office, where I waited a full hour before he finally deigned to check in. He asked “When do you want to do this?”
    “Right now, obviously.”
    “Oh, we don’t do that. This is just the consultation. We’ll have to schedule you for a different time.”
    “Your receptionists told me that we could do this today.”
    “Oh, we don’t do that. I think we’ll be able to get you in about seven weeks from now.”

    Besides the nasty treatment and the blatant lying, it gets even better. Said consultation cost me an additional $100, and the receptionist told me that the office would send all of the preapproval paperwork to my insurance company. Considering I’d already been lied to by that same receptionist, I went home and called the insurance provider for preapproval. The rep at Blue Cross/Blue Shield called back, stating that they wouldn’t tell her exactly how much the procedure was going to cost after all, so she couldn’t guarantee a preapproval. Several more calls to the office over the next week, and nothing but a runaround as to when they were going to contact Blue Cross. I finally decided “Bollocks to this,” cancelled my seven-week appointment, and went to Planned Parenthood.

    The final aggravation? I got a different receptionist when I cancelled the appointment, and she was apparently as obtuse and as incompetent as the first, because I received a series of calls reminding me about this appointment. When I said “Sorry, but I already had it done,” the response was “Oh.” That was the response on the third and fourth calls, too. I get the impression that if I had actually gone in, the doctor would have used a Weed-Eater and charged me double.

    What really got me, though, was the whole attitude. If I’d been wanting to endorse unlimited procreation and get that vasectomy reversed, they would have fallen all over themselves. I watched that happen with one patient while I was filling out paperwork. The attitude with actually getting it done was “Oh-KAY, we’ll take your money, but we’ll do everything we can to encourage you to change your mind.” If this is typical for men trying to get some control over their reproductive destinies, then I’m not surprised in the slightest that women get it even worse. It’s also the reason why I contribute as much as I can to Planned Parenthood, because I don’t want this garbage happening to anyone else.

  14. Pingback: Vasectomy, Vasecto-you at Planned Parenthood | HAY LADIES!

  15. shan says:

    I really hope you know how important it is for you and other men to share their stories of planned parenthood. This issue needs to come out of the woman’s arena and into the general health world.It seems like all these people imagine is OMGZ A GIRL HAVING SEX! when it could just as easily be their sister getting treated for cervical cancer (i had cryo through pp myself @ age 16, no ins, all free. thanks pp!) or their mother finding a lump early and saving her life.

  16. Expatmom says:

    Great article. These things need to be said! I lived for 3 years in the Houston area so your experience doesn’t surprise me one bit. Andrew is like so many I met there–patting himself on the back for being such a great Christian. Just giving out pat answers whether they’re true or not. I try to decide things carefully after researching thoroughly. Once I think I have the answer, I ask myself–What if I’m wrong? What’s the downside? This works for everything. Andrew-what if you’re wrong???

  17. Pingback: Alternatives to Planned Parenthood? Not in Texas : Ms Magazine Blog

  18. Aunt Snow says:

    Thank you for this article, Andrea. This only makes me even more willing to support PP Los Angeles.

    Perhaps I can make a donation in Andrew’s name.

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