Budget Cuts Lead to Closing of Women’s Clinics
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Los Angeles County’s 13 family planning clinics are closing this week because of budget cuts ordered by Gov. George Deukmejian.
Program directors and health workers predicted the closings Wednesday could result in more than 5,000 additional unwanted pregnancies each year and hurt efforts to stem the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
The clinics offer gynecological exams, pregnancy counseling, birth control and testing for venereal disease. They do not offer abortions.
Officials said women seeking such services, most of them poor and Hispanic, will be referred to the county’s 29 general health clinics, which also provide family planning, but patients sometimes must wait up to eight weeks for an appointment.
The county’s 42 clinics have provided family planning services to 60,000 women a year.
In July, Deukmejian cut two-thirds of the state’s $36.2 million family planning budget - the maximum cut permitted by law. He has suggested that California’s rising teen-age pregnancy rate proves the program has failed.
″It’s a horrific situation,″ said Catherine J. Wylie, a administrator of family planning programs. ″The women at the highest risk will be the ones most affected and, by the time they’re screened, they’ll already be pregnant.″
Counties that use less state money to operate their family planning programs, including San Diego, will not be as drastically affected by the cuts as Los Angeles.
Still, San Diego County health officials said they planned to eliminate breast and cervical cancer screening for poor patients, among other services.
Abortion opponents on Monday backed the cuts.
″These clinics have long been used as a cover and funnel of money for the abortion industry,″ said Brian Johnston, western director of the National Right to Life Committee.