Conservative political forces in Indiana were driven by religious fervor to gut all public funding from Planned Parenthood. They led the nation in demonizing the organization because 3 percent of its services involved reproductive services — abortion.
To sterilize that contagion, the remaining 97 percent of Planned Parenthood services would be expunged as necessary collateral damage. Private interest became public mandate.
The people of Austin bore that burden for Indiana’s War on Planned Parenthood.
In 2011, Planned Parenthood ran five rural clinics in Indiana. They tested for HIV and offered prevention, intervention and counseling for better health. The one in Scott County performed no abortions.
Mothers-to-be in Scott County must drive 50 miles to visit a gynecologist or an obstetrician. That’s not an isolated insight. Of Indiana’s 92 counties, Scott County has ranked 92nd in unhealthiness for five straight years.
Fewer high school kids there go to college than anywhere else in the state. There is one mental health provider for every 3,500 residents.
There is one physician in town. He saw the HIV outbreak coming and begged the state for help. None came.
The Legislature was too preoccupied before 2013 trying to defund Planned Parenthood and finally succeeded despite court objections.
Scott County has been without an HIV testing center for two years. That’s how long it took the epidemic to flourish.