‘Collateral damage’ in the war on Planned Parenthood


Last week a federal judge ordered the state of Kansas to resume regular funding for Planned Parenthood while the organization sues over the state’s defunding effort. But because of the way the state carried out the defunding, Planned Parenthood wasn’t the only healthcare provider that lost out.

Dodge City Family Planning was also defunded under Kansas’ new budget provision. Dodge City Family Planning is a non-profit clinic in western Kansas that serves low-income patients and does not provide abortions. It has been around since 1976 and employs two people. It’s run by one of them – Karla Demuth, a nurse practitioner, who sees patients and serves as the clinic’s administrator.

From the AP’s coverage last week:

The Dodge City clinic also lost its $39,000 in annual Title X funding after the Legislature passed the new law aimed at cutting funding for Planned Parenthood. … Karla Demuth, director of the Dodge City Family Planning Clinic, said she got a call Wednesday  from KDHE asking whether the clinic was still open, but received no word on whether the state also will continue to [fund] it.  … “We are just collateral damage from this,” Demuth said.

We spoke with Karla Demuth today. She says the clinic hasn’t received funding from the state since the end of June, and she and the other employee haven’t been paid since July. But they’ve kept the clinic open all along, without changes in service and continuing to offer a sliding fee scale to low-income patients. The money from those fees has been enough “to keep the lights on and the utilities running and medical supplies coming in. That’s what’s keeping the doors open, but it’s not enough to compensate employees,” she says.

Part of what’s motivating Demuth to keep “plugging along” is that she doesn’t think her patients have anywhere else to go for affordable care. “I don’t have any place to send them. I don’t have any options for them,” she says. “I can’t just close the doors and tell them, ‘Sorry, I don’t care.’”

Demuth says she doesn’t know how much longer she can keep this up. She is looking for another job. “Our biggest fear is, we close tomorrow and the money is available next week,” she says. The clinic hasn’t been as busy lately because, she suspects, people assume it has already closed. But then, there are the people who do come in: “All my patients keep saying, ‘I’m so glad you’re here, I was afraid you wouldn’t be here when I called.’”

Demuth says she has reached out to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to find out what’s happening with the clinic’s funding. But as of today, she hasn’t heard anything back. “I just picked up the mail today and there was no check.”

We reached out to KDHE as well. “Any decision on that particular funding is pending,” says communications director Miranda Myrick. Then she points us to the ongoing lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood.