Statement from Jill June, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland
Thursday, Oct. 4 (TULSA, OK) – Without any justification, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland (PPHeartland) received notification that the Oklahoma State Department of Health is eliminating funding for the Women Infant and Children (WIC) program from three Planned Parenthood health centers in Tulsa. Planned Parenthood has been providing WIC services in Tulsa for 18 years. An effort to eliminate WIC funding from Planned Parenthood and other providers was recently defeated in the legislature, however to our knowledge, Planned Parenthood is the only provider for which the State Department of Health is not renewing the WIC program. Planned Parenthood’s WIC contract is set to expire December 31.
President and CEO of PPHeartland Jill June expressed fear about the consequences of this short-sighted political maneuver on Oklahoma’s women and families. Today, Planned Parenthood calls on the state to reverse course so services are not interrupted for the families who make 3,000 visits to PPHeartland health centers for WIC services each month.
“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. WIC is a lifeline for Oklahoma women and families, ensuring that children have a healthy start.
“Eliminating our three Tulsa health centers hurts women and families in our community who are the most vulnerable. This decision does not improve WIC services for them. Families that have counted on us will need to find other, and possibly less accessible, providers in order to receive WIC services.
“Today, we are currently still providing WIC services to the women and children who depend on us. But if this shortsighted decision stands, these mothers and young children will be forced to bear the consequences.”
“We call on the State to allow us to continue to be a place Oklahoma women and families can trust for these health services. Politics should never interfere with a woman’s access to health services – or food for her children.”
• The WIC program benefits nutritionally at-risk pregnant women, infants and children, providing means to nutritious foods, nutrition education and counseling at WIC service centers. To qualify, a family of three would have an annual income of just $35,000.
• More than half of all infants born in Oklahoma receive support through WIC. Eliminating the number of service sites does nothing to help these infants.
• There were more than 38,000 WIC visits to Planned Parenthood health centers in the last fiscal year.
• This past spring, the Oklahoma legislature unsuccessfully tried to prioritize state funding, which would make nonprofits last to receive any funds – another effort to limit funds to Planned Parenthood.
• Not renewing our WIC contract is just another political attempt to defund our organization.
• In Oklahoma, 100% of PPHeartland’s services are preventive. Last fiscal year in Oklahoma, PPHeartland served more than 7,500 patients for basic preventive health care.