“Nothing changes for her, other than she has to find a new doctor.”
That’s what attorney for the State of Texas Kristofer Monson told a judge last week when arguing for the state’s right to block Planned Parenthood from participating in its Texas Women’s Health Program (TWHP) because some Planned Parenthood clinics, wholly fiscally and geographically separate from others, provide safe, legal abortions. Nearly 50,000 Texans who are enrolled in the program will be forced to find new doctors for cancer screenings and contraception this year if the state gets its way; as of Monday, a judge’s refusal to grant a temporary injunction in favor of a Planned Parenthood patient fighting in court to continue seeing her regular doctor means that the health care provider is, for the first time, officially barred from the newly operational TWHP.
So, we’re meant to believe that nothing changes for “her,” for Texas’ tens of thousands of “hers,” other than they can no longer see the doctors and clinicians they’ve come to trust with their most intimate and private health needs? Kristofer Monson needs to check whatever he thinks the definition of “nothing” is.
Ladies, how long did it take you to find a gynecologist you clicked with? How many doctors were affordable but out of the way? How many doctors were expensive, but non-judgmental? How many doctors were right next door, but refused certain medications or procedures because of your age, sexuality, or marital status? How many of us are still looking, after years of trying, for a doctor that understands us and the needs of our families?
It’s hard enough to find a health provider when the State of Texas isn’t telling you who it thinks is qualified to treat you. But Texas thinks it has a right to tell poor women they can’t go to their usual doctors and nurses at Planned Parenthood, not because they provide inferior services or cost more money than other health providers—in fact, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services, Planned Parenthood has historically provided some of the most efficient, cost-effective family planning care in the state—but because they are “affiliates” of doctors who provide a legal medical procedure: abortion.
The state is strong-arming Texans in a not-at-all veiled attempt to legislate morality; it’s telling low-income women that if they want to get the contraception and cancer screenings that the state has agreed to provide for them, they can’t go to a doctor who admits that his or her politics clash with Rick Perry’s, or Dan Patrick’s, or Bill Zedler’s, or with that of any number of the conservative male lawmakers who have appointed themselves official reproductive health decision makers for Texans.
But listen to Kristofer Monson, little ladies! It’s no big deal to find a whole new person in whose hands to put your reproductive health—and reproductive parts. Show your breasts and vulvae to a whole new State of Texas-approved stranger this year, maybe it’ll be great. Or maybe it’ll be horribly embarrassing, even demeaning, who knows? The risk of low-income Texas women being treated by a doctor who believes in reproductive freedom is definitely worth it!
I know it may seem convenient and comforting to see familiar faces when you’re making some of the most important health care decisions of your life, but hey, try something new! Live a little! Even if it takes you miles out of the way, means you have to listen to a religious lecture or forces you to wait months for a doctor’s appointment. Maybe while you’re riding the bus or counting the days down to your pap smear-a-la-stranger, you’ll realize that Texas merely wants what Republicans think is best for you.
Photo by Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas.