Doors closed to Planned Parenthood visitors
By Christin Nance Lazerus email@example.com June 22, 2011 8:38PM
Shaniqua Thomas of Gary reads the sign at Planned Parenthood in Gary explaining the closure Wednesday afternooon. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 28, 2011 11:21AM
Planned Parenthood patients hoping to pick up a pack of birth control pills or to get an STD test were out of luck Wednesday as all but one of its 28 health centers in Indiana were closed.
A state law that stripped the organization of Medicaid funding forced it to close all but one of its health centers for one day this week. Planned Parenthood also laid off two disease intervention specialists, and stopped treating Medicaid patients as of Tuesday. The law targeted Planned Parenthood because it performs abortions, even though the procedure cannot be funded by taxpayers. Nationwide, Planned Parenthood says that 3 percent of its services are abortion-related.
A handful of women drove into the parking lot of the Gary health care center Wednesday afternoon, and they were dismayed to see that the office was closed. A woman, who didn’t wish to be identified, said that she was there to get some birth control pills.
“I think it’s stupid,” she said. “Planned Parenthood is open to help young women and girls who wouldn’t normally be able to afford these services. Even if you think that abortion is wrong, not everyone can afford to have a baby, which is why they take birth control.”
Gary resident Shaniqua Thomas said the lack of access to services for 9,300 Medicaid patients is going to hurt.
“Sometimes having a kid is not in the best interest of the mother,” Thomas said. “Every woman has the right to make these decisions for herself.”
Planned Parenthood provides a variety of health care services, including birth control, cervical cancer screenings, STD tests, vaccinations, breast exams, testicular exams, pregnancy tests, and some basic preventative health care services.
Gary resident Joanne Pulphus stopped by with her daughter, who wanted to get a physical before she starts college.
“It’s definitely inconvenient,” she said.
Planned Parenthood is challenging the law in U.S. District Court, and a decision is expected by July 1. Federal officials notified the state that the law violates Medicaid laws, which state a provider cannot be disqualified based on scope of services. If the ruling is not favorable to Planned Parenthood, it will have to close eight clinics statewide, including the Hammond location.
The law went into effect on May 11, and more than $100,000 in donations helped the provider stay open and continue serving its Medicaid patients until this week. Planned Parenthood usually receives about $1.3 million a year in Medicaid money, which about 10 percent of its total budget.