“Do you know where I can get cheaper birth control pills?” she asked. “I can’t afford them at the local clinic.”
“Have you tried applying for Medicaid?” I asked. As I live in Texas, and our governor in his infinite idiocy refused the Medicaid expansions. So if this young woman lived in another state she would likely have access to Medicaid and free birth control. As she lived in Texas, though, this was not a guarantee.
“I tried, I was rejected.”
The nearest Planned Parenthood is over an hour away, a prohibitive distance for a lot of my clients. I explained this to her and she asked about the local crisis pregnancy center. I explained they do not provide medical services such as prescriptions for birth control. What I didn’t say was that the only thing they do is employ scare and shame tactics to sway women away from abortion.
I felt the frustration and anger I’ve been feeling all year. Earlier in the year I had several clients become pregnant at the same time (we joked about there being something in the water). All of them had wanted tubals after having their last child, but were refused for reasons that weren’t explained to them, even though one of them had five children. And though they had attempted to take care of their reproductive health, they were labeled irresponsible for getting pregnant. Even though none of them had planned their pregnancies they accepted them, even as they worried about supporting another child.
Usually a woman can get on pregnancy Medicaid quickly. At the time this happened the system was overwhelmed, and it took several months for them to get on Medicaid. A month is a long time when you’re pregnant. One, due to bureaucratic errors, had an even longer wait. Worse, she was starting to suspect something was wrong with the pregnancy. She looked ill, with a greyish tint to her skin. She was worried about gestational diabetes, something she nearly developed in a previous pregnancy.
But her Medicaid was delayed. And she lived too far away from Planned Parenthood to go in for a check up. The crisis pregnancy center couldn’t help her. She waited and waited, looking more and more ill each time I saw her. Her life, and the well being of her fetus was at risk because she could not get to a Planned Parenthood!
How in the hell is this pro-life?
Planned Parenthood provides a vital service for the community. The clients I see are impoverished. They qualify for foodstamps and other assistance. In the three years I have worked here I have NEVER seen a client have kids for the benefits. Like the group of clients I had at the beginning of the year most try to avoid becoming pregnant again, but due to a lack of access to reproductive healthcare, are unable to.
What I see is women wanting to get on birth control but being unable to afford it.
What I see is women having reproductive health crises and being unable to afford care for it.
What I see is women who are pregnant and unable to afford to see a doctor.
Texas is not expanding Medicaid. Planned Parenthood is under attack and there is nothing to support it in its absence. Where I work women do not have reliable access to reproductive heath care. And I see the harm of it. Every day.