State Sen. Laura Woods (R-Arvada/Westminster) has, in part, focused her political career on trying to stop women from having access to an abortion, even if they were raped. Or even for a teen who was raped by her father.
Woods’ unabashed goal is to eliminate a woman’s right to choose, no matter what the circumstances that led to the pregnancy.
As part of her anti-abortion crusade, Woods wants to eliminate all government funding for Planned Parenthood, the women’s health organization that mostly provides basic family planning and health-care services, but also offers abortion services.
By law, Planned Parenthood cannot spend the money it gets from the federal government on abortions.
Instead, Planned Parenthood uses the tax money to provide low income Medicaid patients with basics like HIV and STD tests, birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and such. None of the money goes for abortion.
So, to translate the political rhetoric into reality as we see it in Woods district, what would de-funding Planned Parenthood mean for Arvada?
If Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Arvada were to lose its government funding, as Woods wants, then about 1,000 low-income patients, covered by Medicaid and another federal health program, who rely on the clinic for cancer screenings, STD tests, women’s health care, and other basics, would have to be turned away, according to Whitney Phillips, a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman.
“At Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains we believe that people should be able to get the care they need regardless of their zip code,” said Whitney Phillips in an e-mail. “Without access to Planned Parenthood in the Arvada community, nearly 1000 low-income residents would be forced to seek the care they need elsewhere. People come to PPRM for high-quality, non-judgmental, confidential care that patients may not be able to receive otherwise. Planned Parenthood serves a vital role in these communities and may be the first and only place patients can go for the care they need.”
Would these patients be able to get care elsewhere?
No one’s studied the full impact in Colorado if Planned Parenthood lost federal funding, leaving some 80,000 low-income people statewide in need of a new clinic.
In Texas, defunding Planned Parenthood would result in, among other things, a 27 percent increase in births among women who use injectable contraception, according to one study.
In Arvada, health-care providers would likely be able to absorb Planned Parenthood’s patients, according to Marc Williams, a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.
But it’s not guaranteed. And patients might, at a minimum, have to go to the wider Jefferson County area to get care, Williams wrote me, which spotlights one of a handful of hardships that Arvada residents might face if Woods had her way, and Planned Parenthood were de-funded.
Because low-income people rely on public transportation, the location of a clinic, while theoretically not an insurmountable barrier to access, may in reality determine whether a patient gets health care at all.
Waiting lists or delays at other clinics are also an unknown.
Possibly more serious, especially from the perspective of women seeking birth-control or family-planning services, is the preferences of patients served currently by Planned Parenthood.
Some women seek out Planned Parenthood, specifically, because the organization prides itself on respecting women’s privacy and being sensitive to the medical as well as social needs of patients.
Maybe Woods, who isn’t returning my calls, has an alternative for these women, and other patients, who’d be turned away if Woods succeeded in defunding Planned Parenthood.
If so, she hasn’t talked about it. Her priority appears to be on attacking Planned Parenthood first and worrying about its patients later, if at all.
With control of Colorado’s state senate likely riding on the outcome of Woods’ senate district 19 race against Democrat Rachel Zenzinger, reporters who have access to Woods should find out if she’s thought through the ramifications of her plan to defund Planned Parenthood.