Planned Parenthood kicked out of WIC program
BY World's Editorials Writers
Friday, October 05, 2012
10/05/12 at 3:09 AM
In a move that is both shocking and suspicious, the Oklahoma State Department of Health has ended its contract with Oklahoma's Planned Parenthood organization to provide a nutrition program to new low-income mothers and infants.
Three of the four Tulsa health centers operated by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland provide services through the federal Women, Infants and Children program, but will have to cease offering that program at the end of the year unless the decision is changed. The agency has provided WIC services in Oklahoma for 18 years.
The decision to boot Planned Parenthood out of the WIC program comes on the heels of legislative attempts to do the same thing, raising the specter that the Health Department's decision was politically influenced. Planned Parenthood also has been a target in Congress and in other states because it provides abortions in some locations. But Planned Parenthood does not provide abortions in Oklahoma.
The letter informing the health provider of the termination gave no hint as to why the decision was made.
Jill June, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, called on state leaders to reverse the decision, pointing out that the agency's health centers handle 3,000 WIC visits per month.
"I think we deserve some answers, but, more importantly, the women who come to Planned Parenthood, they shouldn't be caught up in what I fear is a political attack," June said.
If the agency no longer can provide the service, clients can receive WIC benefits at other locations, but access could be an issue for women of limited means. One major benefit of providing WIC services at Planned Parenthood health centers is that these centers also provide an array of other services, including pediatrics and primary care.
"More than half of all infants born in Oklahoma receive nutritious foods through the WIC program," June said. "The program also provides their mothers with essential health information, screenings and referrals so she can raise healthy children."
Ironically, kicking Planned Parenthood out of the WIC program only hurts women who have made the choice to have their babies and are trying to do their best to provide for them.
If the decision to end the contract was politically motivated, it is indefensible.
"Politics should never interfere with a woman's access to health services - or food for her children," said June.
Original Print Headline: Politics?