Last fall, I moved to Texas. It was a move I made willingly, but not without a lot of swearing and resentment. Since moving here, Texas has not done much to make me feel better about living here, and certainly not about living here with a young daughter. Because Rick Perry hates women. Enough so that he'd forgo $35million in Federal funding for women's health care in exchange for an opportunity to teach us that we need to do sex right-er… by which I mean, in ways that are approved by the right.
I wrote a letter asking him not to let this happen. And he wrote me back…. and because I care about women's issues, he assumed I was really bad at math…. and generally stupid.
The program in question in the Women's Health Program (WHP) which, through Texas Medicaid, offers approximately 130,000 low-income women the opportunity to receive health screenings, such as PAP smears and STD testing, and birth control. The program is available to women as long as they are fertile, not pregnant, and trying to remain not pregnant.*
Rick Perry is fine with women making the choice to not be pregnant, so long as they're making that choice while they are still not pregnant. And, in an attempt to stop women from learning that abortions are a thing that they could legally do, he decided that women could receive these services,but they can't go to Planned Parenthood (or any aobrtion provider) to get them.
Let me make that clear: they're removing abortion providers from a list of approved family planning providers for a plan that does not an cannot cover women who are in need of abortions.
But the Obama was all "Hey, Perry, you cant do that shit. Women need to be able to get their medical attention where they choose. You don't get to take that away because you frown upon their doctor… yo." And Rick Perry was all, "Oh yeah? What are YOU going to do about it?" And Obama was all like, "Well, you can either play by the rules, or I'm pulling the $35million I give you for that program. Only a huge uncaring asshole would defund health care for half the population just because he's not allowed to boss women around." So Rick Perry said, "Fuck off, Obama. I don't need your tens of millions of dollars! You just wait to see what happens when I BLAME YOU!"
Meanwhile, a bunch of people who live here in Texas and want to make sure that we're not subject to a bunch of people's unwanted babies, wrote to the Governor and begged him not to do this.
The good news is that the WHP is still in place. The bad news is that it's not being Federally funded. And even worse is that the governor and his office are pretending this is not their fault and that Texas is just doing a good deed by not letting women who aren't seeking abortions catch abortion fever from unsanitized Planned Parenthood waiting areas.
And even worse? They emailed me this response in a pdf. Who the hell does that?
Dear Fellow Texan:Thank you for writing to the Office of the Governor.
As you may know by now, the services provided by the Women’s Health Program (WHP) are not going away. Governor Perry has instructed Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Thomas Suehs to work with legislative leadership to identify sources of state funding in the existing budget to continue providing the services upon which these women depend.
The debate about WHP has never been about the program itself. As Governor Perry wrote to President Obama, WHP is “a cost-effective Texas solution that connects more than 100,000 low-income women to vital health and wellness services each year.”
Rather, this is an issue about the rule of law, as well as Texas’ right to decide on its own which providers are qualified to provide care to Texas women, and which providers are eligible to receive our hardearned tax dollars. Under federal law, Washington already leaves it to state leaders to administer the Medicaid program and set criteria for qualified providers. Texas has a law in place that leaves abortion providers and their affiliates ineligible for WHP, and it is not within anyone’s discretion to simply ignore that law, as Washington would prefer.
Texas is well prepared to handle the needs of WHP participants, even without organizations like Planned Parenthood, which itself represented less than 2 percent of the more than 2,500 providers across Texas. In fact, nearly 80 percent of WHP participants were already going to a provider other than Planned Parenthood. These facts demonstrate just how ridiculous it is that Washington is ending WHP funding out of concern for such a limited number of providers.
If you wish to help preserve federal funding for this important program, you may wish to contact President Obama and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and express your concerns directly about their decision to cut funding.