The State of Women's Health

Where the Women Are

By Megan Kilgore

Of all the changes to women’s healthcare in Texas, the Department of State Health Services’ family planning programs were hit the hardest. The state legislature cut more than two-thirds of the funding for family planning services, which the Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition says only satisfied about 32 percent of the need to begin with.

Dr. Janet Realini, steering committee chair for the coalition, says the cuts have been “devastating for many women around the state.” Even clinics that received funding have had to cut back services and eliminate better, more expensive forms of contraception.

“This cut in family planning has really shredded the women’s health safety net in Texas,” she says.

While the impact has spread across Texas, some areas suffered more than others, Realini. She points to the Panhandle and the Rio Grande Valley as some of the hardest hit areas.

The city of Lubbock, with its population of over 230,000 and a major state university, no longer has a DSHS family planning provider, Realini says. Low-income women in Lubbock must now travel more than 30 miles to a clinic in Levelland to receive these services.

Explore: Need and impact of DSHS Family Planning budget cuts by county

The map below shows the number of women in need, women served by DSHS family planning services before and after the cuts and the number of DSHS-funded clinics before and after the cuts in each county. Of Texas’ 254 counties, 109

As you explore, you’ll notice that increased need does not necessarily mean increased services. Collin County, which encompasses Plano and McKinney, has the 11th highest number of women in need in the state. In 2010, however, just 3,094 women received DSHS family planning services in the county, and that number dropped to zero after all three of the county’s DSHS clinics lost funding in 2012.

Surrounding counties in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex may be able to pick up the slack for Collin County, but start looking at far West Texas, and you see a very different story. Many of these rural counties have populations of needy women in the hundreds but have no clinics and provided no DSHS family planning services even before the budget cuts. For low-income women in Brewster County, which includes Alpine and the Big Bend area, the nearest funded clinic is two counties away.

Figures from the Texas Policy Education Project’s Family Planning Data Finder.