Planned Parenthood Officials Speak Out About Funding Cuts

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - Continuing coverage on the closing of Odessa Planned Parenthood.

Officials with the organization tell NewsWest 9 they were forced to shut down one of their clinics after they were stripped of funding by Governor Perry.

Since 1966, Karen Hildebrand said Planned Parenthood of Odessa has been helping women with their basic health care needs, but that's about to change.

"This is a program that serves 124,000 women across the state of Texas with their basic health care," Hildebrand said.

It's called the Medicaid Women's Health Program, but now it's a thing of the past and the Odessa clinic is shutting their doors for good.

Hildebrand said it's a politically charged move.

"There is no good reason why they're eliminating health care for 124,000 low-income women who have no other access to these services," Hildebrand said. "Pap smears, birth control, STD testing and they will have no access to that program."

On Thursday, a new rule was announced saying the state could not provide Medicaid Women's Health funds to any clinic that's affiliated with abortion.

But under federal law, states can't choose which medical providers get these funds.

Governor Perry made the decision to do away with the program altogether.

"Federal government has said no and Texas said ok then we just won't offer the program," Hildebrand said.

$1.3 million dollars slashed from the West Texas budget and Odessa's clinic was on the chopping block.

71 percent of women who received services there were covered under this program.

"There was no way to sustain operations there," Hildebrand said.

Odessa was also chosen to shut down because the Midland location is still nearby.

Hildebrand said many women have nowhere else to go since the money was stripped from all qualified providers, not just Planned Parenthood.

"There is nowhere for them to go unless they have money," Hildebrand said.

Hildebrand said taxpayers will be left to foot the bill.

"Now we are gonna see an increase in abortion rates, an increase in STD's, an increase in unintended pregnancies," she said. "I think he's put women's lives at risk."

The clinic will close on March 9th.