Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Planned Parenthood is Planning for the Worst

Posted By on Wed, Dec 21, 2016 at 5:06 PM

click to enlarge PPGMR reported a rise in donations since Donald Trump's election. More than 300 supporters flocked to the Memphis clinic to show support for the organization. - MICAELA WATTS
  • Micaela Watts
  • PPGMR reported a rise in donations since Donald Trump's election. More than 300 supporters flocked to the Memphis clinic to show support for the organization.

Planned Parenthood of Greater Memphis Region is taking steps to brace itself against the incoming administration where federal defunding of the national women's healthcare organization is all but guaranteed, according to PPGMR CEO Ashley Coffield.

If federally defunded, the organization will lose roughly $540 million* (edited) nationally in Medicaid reimbursements. The Memphis clinic could lose millions in reimbursements for cancer screenings, birth control, and other basic gynecological services. Low income women will be most affected, as PP is often their only affordable option.

"We're preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. We're not going to give up this fight," Coffield told a crowd of media and supporters who gathered yesterday to hear how PPGMR plans to stay afloat once president-elect Donal Trump is sworn into office in January.

In 2015, Congress passed a bill to federally defund Planned Parenthood, but it was vetoed by President Obama. With Republicans in control of Congress and in the Oval Office, the fear is that PP's safety net will take  a massive blow.

"We have no way of knowing what this administration will bring, but we can start preparing for it," said Coffield.

Coffield announced that the organization's Now Campaign has raised $10.5 million of its $12 million goal, as donations spiked in direct response to Trump's election.

The Now Campaign is not meant to substitute federal funding, but it will help the organization survive as $6 million will go towards an endowment and the other $6 million towards strategic growth, which includes comprehensive sex ed, a new location, and a separate fund in case unanticipated legal challenges pop up.

"Remember the fetal tissue hoax?" asked Coffield. "That cost us tens of millions, and we had no idea it was coming."

Coffield's address occurred right around the time state health officials in Texas were delivering final legal notices to PP clinics in Texas that they would be stripped of $3.1 million in Medicaid reimbursements.

That's roughly the same number that Tennessee PP clinics would lose. Though Texas' population is considerably larger than Tennessee, PPGMR handles patients from many of Tennessee's border states, where abortion access is often harder to come by.

Next year it may be Texas women that have to make the pilgrimage to Tennessee.

Coffield considers the move to be an attack on lower-income women, especially women of color.

"These political attacks on reproductive healthcare access in Texas stand to undo decades of work by public health advocates who have worked to address the longstanding health-care inequity for people of color in this country."

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