COMMENTARY | Planned Parenthood of North Texas claims that efforts to revoke their state funding will cause women to lose health services like mammograms. However, a review of the services provided by Planned Parenthood locations in north Texas reveals that none of their 20 local clinics offer mammograms at their locations.
The revelation comes as a debate rages over funding to an organization that is the nation's largest abortion provider. Texas joined a number of other states to defund Planned Parenthood clinics of a total of $13.5 million in health care funds. After a federal appeals court upheld a new state law that would have defunded the organization, a second federal appeals court issued an injunction and reinstated funding. The state of Texas plans to continue to appeal.
Planned Parenthood has argued that the loss of taxpayer funds would make it difficult or impossible for some women to get health services or cancer screenings, including mammograms. The effort to strip state funding comes after a highly-publicized situation in February in which the Komen Foundation announced they would no longer provide funds to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer prevention. Komen later reversed its decision and reinstated funding several days later.
According to their own website, none of the 20 Planned Parenthood of North Texas clinics have the equipment to provide mammograms. Instead, they offer "mammogram referrals." They state that they work "in partnership with the local Komen affiliates and the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (BCCCP) at the Texas Department of Health" to provide free mammography services to low-income women. These mammograms are already available directly to women via local state-funded health clinics; the state of Texas is essentially paying Planned Parenthood to refer patients to their own clinics.
Besides a clinic in Dallas that provides abortion services, Planned Parenthood of North Texas' 20 health centers are located across the metroplex, including two locations in Dallas and four in Fort Worth, as well as Arlington, Denton, Irving, Lewisville, McKinney, and Plano.
According to their 2010 annual report, Planned Parenthood of North Texas claimed to provide 41,533 breast cancer screenings and received $105,974 in grants from the Komen Foundation for mammograms, despite not being able to physically provide them. Planned Parenthood of North Texas did not respond to a request for clarification as to who providies mammograms for their patients.
Despite claims that a loss of funding from the state of Texas or the Komen Foundation would affect health services, Planned Parenthood of North Texas seems to have significant sources of private funding much larger than their public funding sources. They are currently in the middle of a capital campaign to raise $21 million for various services. This includes $6 million for an endowment to fund a theater group that uses teen actors to educate children on sexual reproductive issues. Another $6 million would be used for an advocacy endowment, which includes lobbying political officials.
Their 2010 annual report also listed their Board of Directors, which includes a number of prominent, wealthy north Texas citizens. They include Laura Bird, founder of the Gregory and Laura Bird Foundation and co-owner of a private oil and gas company; Lois Finkelman, the chair of Dallas' gas drilling task force; Leslie MacLean, a Dallas trial lawyer; arts patron Claude Albritton, owner of the McKinney Ave. Contemporary; and Cecilia Boone, co-founder of The Container Store.
Among the members of the Planned Parenthood of North Texas advisory council are Nancy Brinker, founder of the Susan Komen Race for the Cure; Dr. Ken Altshuler of UT Southwestern Medical Center; Trammel S. Crow of the Crow Collection of Asian Art; Margot Perot, wife of Ross Perot; and investor "Rusty" Rose, former owner of the Texas Rangers and friend of former President George W. Bush.
Victor Medina has covered local issues as a Community Voices columnist for the Dallas Morning News, and his other writing credits include SportsIllustrated.com and Rivals.com. He has served as a member of the board of directors of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas.