Planned Parenthood is known as an abortion provider, but it also offers preventive health care.
By Neven Jones
Planned Parenthood is beginning to offer wellness and preventive care.
Mara Posada, director of communications for Planned Parenthood Trust of South Texas, spoke at this college Sept. 24 during Hispanic Heritage Month.
Women had little control over their fertility before the birth control pill was made legal to married women in the 1960s.
Within the first five years of the pill’s availability, one in four married women under the age of 45 used the pill, Posada said.
President Richard Nixon enacted the Title 10 Family Planning Grant in 1970 to help low-income women gain access to annual exams, Pap tests and clinical breast exams.
The bill had wide bipartisan support when it passed, Posada said.
“When you think about now how polarized and politicized sometimes even family planning can be, it’s a tragedy because just 40 years ago it was very much a bipartisan effort to get family planning funded in the U.S.,” Posada said.
Many Planned Parenthood clinics focus only on preventive care. All clinics provide annual exams for women, male sexual exams, birth control, pregnancy testing and sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment.
The Stop Cervical Cancer program was created because Planned Parenthood discovered women do not follow up with a physician if they receive an abnormal Pap result.
For many, seeing another doctor is an economic hardship.
The program allows women to receive follow-up care at Planned Parenthood and includes colposcopies.
According to the Mayo Clinic website, a colposcopy is a procedure to closely examine a women’s cervix, vagina and vulva for signs of disease.
Planned Parenthood works with partners such as Methodist Healthcare Ministries that provide funding for the colposcopy procedure because it is expensive, Posada said. Last year, 400 women underwent this medical procedure done at Planned Parenthood, Posada said.
In underserved communities in the U.S., such as Latina communities, cervical cancer is high, Posada said. Many women who have cervical cancer have not been screened, Posada said.
Last year, Planned Parenthood provided more than 5,000 Pap tests for cervical cancer.
For many women, coming to Planned Parenthood is the only time they have a regular checkup, Posada said.
It is also the only time many patients have blood sugar and iron levels checked and get hypertension under control, Posada said.
Many see Planned Parenthood as their primary care provider, Posada said. Planned Parenthood recently hired a primary care physician and will be offering more primary care services, such as treatment for allergies.
The Pilot Primary Care Project should be available by the end of this year at Planned Parenthood Southeast Family Planning, 2346 E. Southcross Blvd.
More than 93 percent of Planned Parenthood’s clients are female, 6.79 percent are male, 71 percent are Latino, 21 percent are white, 5 percent are black, and 3 percent are listed as unknown.
The majority of clients are between 17-34 years old and women in their reproductive years.
In 2012, three of 10 Latinos did not have health insurance.
Planned Parenthood supports the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, and believes it is important to Latinos because it will help them get insurance coverage, she said.
Posada hopes the new law will encourage people to seek preventive care and not wait to see a doctor.
Posada said the ACA would provide preventive care without co-pays, including well-women exams, Pap tests and prenatal services.
People with pre-existing conditions will be covered under the ACA.
Women also will be able to obtain contraception, such as birth control pills, without paying a co-pay, she said.
Depending on income and co-pay, preventive care can be costly.
Posada said the law would help reduce some of the disparities in the Latino community because they will not have to wait to receive preventive care.
For more information, visit http://www.plannedparenthood.org/south-texas.