No, Defunding Planned Parenthood Wouldn't Make Colorado Better

08/21/2015 01:26 pm ET Updated Aug 21, 2016

After he voted to defund Planned Parenthood, Sen. Cory Gardner hopped on the radio said, not to worry, no one in Colorado will suffer if the health organization loses federal funding.

"We voted to take the money from Planned Parenthood and distribute it to the community health clinics around the state of Colorado," Gardner told KNUS 710-AM's Dan Caplis Aug. 13, vowing that the investigation of Planned Parenthood in Congress will continue. "There are nine times more community health clinics than there are Planned Parenthood clinics, and so they provide more access to women and men across the state." (Listen to Caplis belowAug. 13 and also on Kelley and Company here on Aug. 10.)

It's true that there are many more community health centers than Planned Parenthood clinics in our state. But this doesn't mean that throwing more money at the community health clinics would provide equal or greater access to healthcare than what's available now.

First of all, studies have shown that the community health center (CHC) network and federally qualified health center (FQHCs) network don't offer all types of birth control and reproductive health care. That's why many large community health centers actually factually refer patients to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood specializes in reproductive health care--while community health centers offer a wider range of services.

Poor people on Medicaid go disproportionately to Planned Parenthood for these services, and it's unlikely that the safety net and the health care system, as currently configured, could absorb Planned Parenthood's patients. This means that defunding Planned Parenthood would weaken our country's already weak safety net.

Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado blogged this in response to Gardner's radio remarks (and discussed the issue with The Denver Post's Joey Bunch here):

In Colorado, Planned Parenthood serves over 80,000 people each year. Including helping 57,000 women get their birth control, 11,000 women get breast wellness exams, and 56,000 Coloradans get STD tests. These are services people need -- usually immediately. And these services are being provided by PP most often to low-income and rural Coloradans. Three-quarters of Planned Parenthood's patients are low-income, making less than $37,000 a year for a family of four. In Colorado, Planned Parenthood has 20 health centers, many of in rural communities, like Granby, Salida, La Junta and Alamosa. Women in all communities need reproductive health care, and Planned Parenthood provides it.

Furthermore, it is harder and harder for low-income people in this country to find a provider, even though they may now have coverage because of the Affordable Care Act. According to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office only 41 percent of OB/GYN's in Medicaid managed care networks are even taking new clients. Without Planned Parenthood thousands of Colorado women, and millions around the country, would have no place to go when they need care.

Finally, you cannot write about the impacts of extracting Planned Parenthood from our communities, or reducing its presence, without saying this: the debate about defunding Planned Parenthood is also about choice. Planned Parenthood is barred by law from using federal money for abortion, just as community health clinics are. But Planned Parenthood offers this option through other funding sources, while the community health clinics do not.

So, when an anti-choice politician like Gardner tells an anti-choice radio host like Caplis that our life in Colorado will be better off without federal funds for Planned Parenthood, you don't have to dig too deep to find out there's another side to the story.

Listen below to Sen. Cory Gardner on KNUS 710-AM's Dan Caplis Show Aug. 13, 2015.

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/gardner-explains-why-he-wants-to-de-fund-planned-parenthood