Access To Birth Control And STI Testing Is About To Get A Whole Lot Better In Texas

Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas have definitely had a tough few years, fighting against dangerous anti-abortion legislation, facing numerous clinic shutdowns, and trying to keep the minimal funding it still has. The Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt to strike down Texas laws requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and abortion clinics to have facilities comparable to ambulatory surgical centers was a turning point in the fight for reproductive rights in the Lone Star State, and now there’s even more good news. Thanks to private donations, Texas Planned Parenthood clinics will begin offering free IUDs and STI testing.

The Boone Family Foundation and Harold Simmons Foundation each donated $1 million to Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, which will allow certain clinics to offer the free services to 1,000 women each year for three years beginning next month. Free IUDs will only be available to low-income women in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, while the free STI testing will be at clinics in Addison, Arlington, Bedford, Cedar Hill, Dallas, Denton, Fort Worth, Lewisville, Mesquite, and Plano.

“For us, it’s really just about access to the best health care for all women in Dallas,” Betsy Healy, Harold Simmons Foundation grants director, told The Dallas Morning News’ Holly Haber. “We felt this was an option women should have. It’s about removing the cost barrier.

Sen. Patty Murray Discusses Komen's Turnaround In Their Planned Parenthood Funding
CREDIT: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Colorado proved the success of offering free long-acting reversible birth control when it started a similar program in 2009 with money from a private grant. The state’s teen birth rate dropped a whopping 40 percent in just a few years, but the funding ran out and the state’s Republican legislature failed to continue funding the initiative. While Texas’ IUD program will only be in Dallas and Fort Worth and won’t be specifically for teens, the results could still be just as drastic.

IUDs are one of the most effective forms of birth control, with a failure rate of less than one percent, but they don’t come cheap. Getting an IUD can cost anywhere from $500-$900, and although they last for years, that’s a lot of money to drop at once. For the low-income women eligible for the free contraception in Texas, getting that much money would be pretty impossible.

“Each time a Texas woman has expanded access to health care and education, regardless of her ZIP code, income or insurance status,” Cecilia Boone, a board member of the Boone Family Foundation, told The Dallas Morning News, “it is a win for public health and for our communities.”