For more than 38 years, Planned Parenthood has been providing quality health care in Hays. Through the Federal Title X family planning program, our Hays Health Center has provided thousands of women with life-saving cancer screenings, birth control, prevention and treatment of STDs, breast health services, cervical cancer screenings, sexual health education and health information. Unfortunately, a recent court decision allowed the Kansas Legislature to restrict the types of providers eligible to receive Title X funds. For purely political reasons, these restrictions have excluded us -- and Hays women and families -- from the Title X program.
Because of this misguided, short-sighted decision by Kansas politicians, we have been forced to make the difficult decision to close our Hays health center. Our patients can be seen through June 26, and medical records can be picked up at our offices through June 30. The tough decision to close was made after careful consideration of every possible option to preserve access to the essential health services we've provided to the Hays community. Though no additional Title X health care providers are located in Hays, our patients will be referred to First Care Clinic, which offers family planning services on a sliding scale, or to Title X clinics in Rooks County, Trego County or Russell County for care. Our Hays patients also might be referred to our Wichita Health Center for certain services.
We know the Hays women and families who come to us aren't making a political statement; they're coming to get basic health care, like breast exams, pap tests and birth control.
At the end of the day, Kansas legislators and Gov. Sam Brownback have put politics ahead of the health of Kansas women, making access to basic health care more difficult, while creating an increasingly hostile environment for health care providers and patients. We are so grateful for the ongoing support of the Hays community during our 38 years here. We'll keep fighting so women and families in your community and across the state can access the health care they need, no matter what.
Elise Higgins is Kansas manager of government affairs for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.