Regarding the State of Indiana, Mike Pence, Planned Parenthood, and an Exploding HIV Outbreak

Indiana-StateSeal.svgBy Elaine Magliaro

Last week, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana “declared a public health emergency in Scott County, Indiana…after 79 people tested positive for HIV linked to intravenous drug use.” Today, Laura Bassett (Huffington Post) said that Scott County has become “the center of an exploding HIV outbreak.” Unfortunately, the county has “been without an HIV testing center since early 2013, when the sole provider — a Planned Parenthood clinic — was forced to close its doors.” Bassett noted that the clinic did not offer abortion services.

Mike Pence (R) Governor of Indiana

Mike Pence (R)
Governor of Indiana


The Scott County clinic and four other Planned Parenthood facilities in the state, all of which provided HIV testing and information, have shuttered since 2011, in large part due to funding cuts to the state’s public health infrastructure. Those cuts came amid a national and local political campaign to demonize the health care provider. Now, the state is scrambling to erect pop-up clinics to combat an unprecedented HIV epidemic caused by intravenous drug use.

The fact that Scott County was “without a testing facility until a few weeks ago is a glaring example of the kind of public health crisis that results when prevention and testing are left unfunded,” said Patti Stauffer, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky’s vice president for public policy.

Bassett said that the GOP-led state legislature in Indiana “was one of the first to declare war against Planned Parenthood in 2011, when it passed a bill that defunded the family planning provider because some of its clinics offer abortion services.” She added that a “federal judge later blocked that law from going into effect.” The state, nonetheless, “continued to slash various sources of funding to Planned Parenthood at a time when the cost of operating a medical facility continues to rise.”

Laura Clawson (Daily Kos) noted that Pence was serving in the House of Representatives in 2011, “so he wasn’t directly responsible for Planned Parenthood cuts made at the state level.”  She said, however, that Pence pushed an amendment to defund Planned Parenthood through the House in 2011, “as part of the wave of Republican attacks on Planned Parenthood that also closed that Scott County clinic, leaving the area without an HIV testing center.”


Amendments to defund Planned Parenthood are exactly the sort of thing that made Pence a darling of the far right, a governor, and, to hear some people talk, a plausible presidential candidate. So while he’s now taking action to set up a needle exchange to stem the HIV outbreak—despite his general opposition to needle exchanges—the fact is that this outbreak is a direct result of the kind of policies that Mike Pence embraces.

Bassett said that Planned Parenthood received a total of $3.3 million in funding from government contracts and grants in 2005. She added, “By 2014, that funding had dropped to $1.9 million. Five of Planned Parenthood’s smaller clinics in the state — the health centers in Scottsburg, Madison, Richmond, Bedford and Warsaw — were unable to keep up with the growing technology costs that were necessary to remain competitive as a medical provider.” Barrett said that all five of “the clinics that were forced to close had offered HIV testing”–and not one of the clinics “offered abortions.”

Bassett reported that Planned Parenthood’s HIV testing in Indiana has been increasing each year even without the five closed clinics.


Overall, the provider’s 25 remaining clinics in Kentucky and Indiana gave more than 8,000 HIV tests in 2014, about 1,000 more than the previous year. And the numbers would certainly be higher if the five shuttered clinics in Indiana had been able to continue to operate.

Stauffer said if the Planned Parenthood facilities in Scottsburg and Madison, both in southwest rural Indiana, had received the funding they needed to stay open, they could have been a vital resource in preventing the current HIV outbreak.



Indiana Shut Down Its Rural Planned Parenthood Clinics And Got An HIV Outbreak (Huffington Post)

What do Gov. Pence, Planned Parenthood and Indiana’s HIV epidemic all have in common? (Daily Kos)

This entry was posted in Conservatives, Equal Rights, Government, Health Care, Political Science, Politics, Religion, Reproductive Rights, States, United States and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Regarding the State of Indiana, Mike Pence, Planned Parenthood, and an Exploding HIV Outbreak

  1. mespo727272 says:

    That sound many of us are hearing is Mike Pence’s candidacy imploding. When you’re too radically rightwing for NASCAR, man, you’re really out there.

    You can always count an American business for one thing: an unyielding faith in the Almighty — Dollar, that is.

  2. mespo,
    In the HuffPo comment section, NASCAR is getting a lot of heat for not announcing withdrawal from the Indy race on July 26. I suspect they would pull out if they could. Legally binding contracts with the track and sponsors may prevent them from doing so, even if they want to. However, it is not yet July, so who knows what might happen. Almost all the drivers are younger, in their 20s and 30s. They come from a different generation.

    They just inducted Wendell Scott into the NASCAR hall of fame, and almost everyone is saying that it’s about time. Danica Patrick seems to have found a niche since even the bad boys on the track have discovered her Irish temper, and willingness to rough them up right back. I am waiting for the first openly gay driver to show up. I am willing to bet most of the drivers will say, “So what.”

  3. swarthmoremom says: “A Republican-sponsored measure has been tucked into the Texas budget to supplant funding for HIV prevention with abstinence education.

    (AUSTIN) — Texas would cut $3 million from programs to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and spend that money instead on abstinence education under a contentious Republican-sponsored measure tucked into the state budget Tuesday night.

    The GOP-controlled House overwhelmingly approved the budget amendment, but not before a tense exchange with Democrats that veered into the unusually personal.

  4. Elaine M. says:


    Thanks for the link to that article. What a bunch of maroons!

  5. swarthmoremom says:

    I saw the champagne mangoes in the store last week and thought of you, Elaine. 🙂

  6. swarthmoremom says: “Like southern “Christian” segregationists in the recent past, today’s politicized conservative Christians are executing a strategic retreat into an allegedly private sphere where they are on stronger ground in resisting anti-discrimination policies. They intensely dislike the parallels on the grounds that hostility to gay rights and/or same-sex marriage in deeply entrenched in their faith, or in the case of conservative evangelicals, in the Bible.

    That is exactly what the segregationists said as well, of course. It is not hard to foresee a day when the tortured efforts of religious leaders to stitch together a few culture-bound passages into an eternal condemnation of homosexuality (or for that matter, abortion, which is virtually invisible in Scripture) will look just as absurd and embarrassing as yesterday’s thundering sermons on black people being consigned to submission by the Curse of Ham. And then maybe the strategic retreat into efforts to hang onto discrimination via protestations of “religious liberty” will look less sympathetic as well.”

  7. blouise says:

    SwM and Elaine,

    (found champagne mangoes for $0.73 each!!)

  8. Elaine M. says:

    swarthmoremom & blouise,

    Haven’t seen any champagne mangoes in the markets yet. Of course, we’re still in the midst of winter around here. Can’t wait till spring arrives!

    For Easter, I’m making Sidecars and Mai Tais.

  9. swarthmoremom says:

    Elaine, They have been around about a week or two. They are shipped from Mexico. Going to be 73 degrees today here.

  10. Elaine M. says:


    “Going to be 73 degrees today here.”

    You had to rub it in, didn’t you?

  11. blouise says:

    73 degrees … that means it’s coming our way, Elaine

  12. swarthmoremom says:

    83 degrees today, ladies …broke a record.

  13. so somehow it is Indiana’s fault that these druggies are sharing dope needles, interestiing

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