They say everything’s big in Texas, but they may want to look again this week, as the budget for women’s healthcare has been slashed to pieces.
This was not an angst-filled legislative move to offset sinking revenues. The money – available through Federal Medicaid funding – is sitting there waiting for them, with their name on it. They won’t take it, because doing so would mean routing a small percentage to that radical fringe organization, Planned Parenthood. Leaving Planned Parenthood out of the distribution chain is a violation of Federal law.
It’s hard to say what’s transpired in the decade or so since Planned Parenthood, aptly named for its primary objective of allowing people to plan parenthood, suddenly became indistinguishable from Al Qaeda in the minds of political conservatives and right-wing extremists.
At the national level Planned Parenthood found itself in the crosshairs of House Republicans who in 2011 voted to strip Federal funding from the organization, which runs clinics around the country that dispense critical reproductive care services to millions of women lacking either access to primary care physicians or the finances to meet insurance co-pays.
Thanks to a more forward-thinking Senate vote, Planned Parenthood dodged a bullet. But the portion of Federal funding designated for women’s healthcare in Texas is on hold after that state has cut off its nose to spite its face by defying Federal laws against discrimination and singling out Planned Parenthood as a legitimate recipient of Title X funds.
Why? Simple. Planned Parenthood also provides abortion services. A very small number compared to those occurring annually in the United States, but you can’t argue with hyperbole.
You can argue that pregnancy termination is part and parcel of contraception and family planning. Contrary to popular understanding, many planned pregnancies end in abortion following the sudden development of a family crisis, an unanticipated disease or a fetal anomaly.
But you’d be tousling with a virtual brick wall, because anti-choice legislators and citizens have abandoned critical thinking and waged a no-holds-barred assault against an organization revered by millions of women, and men, whose fond memories and gratitude reflect times in their lives when for various reasons they lacked access to conventional physician offices.
So in his infinite wisdom, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has jeopardized essential healthcare for hundreds of thousands of low-income women who never dreamed they’d be cut off from basic health services out of a desire to cement Perry’s “pro-life” credentials.
In fact, Planned Parenthood patients are downright confused over how a “pro-life” leader could deny them access to what often is life-saving care.
A spokeswoman at Planned Parenthood in Texas’ southernmost region is worried. Very worried. While women living in more urban centers may be fortunate enough to find other clinics still cash-flush enough to offer reduced-cost screenings and contraception, many who live near the Mexican border have a single option when seeking primary care: Planned Parenthood. Losing state-administered funding has made them scramble and “cut corners,” she said. I suspect she was making an understatement.
Do Gov. Perry and his cabal of GOP friends really want to deny care to disadvantaged women, or young women just starting in the workplace without any medical insurance?
Consider this fact: Almost five years ago Perry issued an Executive Order requiring sixth-graders to receive shots of Gardasil, a vaccine intended to prevent the virus leading to cervical cancer. Conservatives in the statehouse revolted and passed a law overturning Perry’s order, which angered the governor and led him to return fire.
[ Also on MeaningfulWomen.com: Gardasil: The Vaccine That’ll Make ’em Slutty ]
“Instead of vaccinating close to 95 percent of our young women, and virtually eliminating the spread of the most common STD in America, [the legislature has] relegated the lives of our young women to social Darwinism, where only those who can afford it or those who know about the virtues of it will get access to the HPV vaccine,” Perry bellowed.
Okay, so Rick Perry is staunchly opposed to hijacking women’s healthcare for political gain.
But it gets better. He’s even vigilant about following legal directives:
“In fact, this legislature has not only overturned an order that could save women’s lives, but they put rider language in the budget that prevents the state from funding vaccines for low-income women if it is mandated by the commission. This is shameful.”
But not as shameful as pimping for Merck & Co., maker of Gardasil — and a big contributor to Perry’s campaign. And certainly not as shameful as plugging the company at which his former Chief of Staff, Mike Toomey, serves as a lobbyist.
And speaking of shame, how about clinging to the importance of following law in 2007, and then in 2012 breaking Federal laws against discrimination by targeting Planned Parenthood for his chopping block?
Gov. Perry, your ideology is showing. So is your greed. Stop performing for anti-choice extremists and start acting as governor of all the citizens of Texas, including women who don’t have the means to adequately preserve their reproductive health – however they choose to maintain it.
[ Also on MeaningfulWomen.com: A Taxing Proposal ]
Your dream of inhabiting the White House is history. Establish your legacy by doing the right thing for Texas citizens whose lives, in many cases, depend on you.