“We have a syphilis epidemic right now in New Orleans,” Dr. Stephanie Taylor, the medical director of the State Office of Public Health's programs to combat sexually transmitted infections (STIs), told the New York Times in a piece on the possible fallout if Louisiana succeeds in its attempt to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood.
Last year, Louisiana's two Planned Parenthood clinics provided 20,000 tests for STIs and offered reproductive health services—like contraception, pap smears, and cancer screenings—to nearly 10,000 patients.
As Gov. Bobby Jindal and state lawmakers push to shut down the family planning provider, there are three numbers, as noted by the Times, that might help put the situation—and the health needs of the state—into some additional context:
Louisiana ranks first among the states in cases of gonorrhea, second in chlamydia, and third in syphilis and in H.I.V., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The state is scheduled to defend its decision to cancel Planned Parenthood's Medicaid funding in federal court on Wednesday. Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast has requested a temporary restraining order to prevent the loss of services for thousands of patients, but Jindal's administration has vowed to shutter the clinics.
Taylor, who said the Planned Parenthood clinics are "allies" to community health clinics, called her state "ground zero" for STIs and warned against the move to cut funds.
“You can’t just cut Planned Parenthood off one day and expect everyone across the city to absorb the patients," she said. "There needs to be time to build the capacity.”