Texas says Women Don’t Need Health Care

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. 
Because when you're stuck with a sudden $35million medical bill, software that inserts the addressee's name is the first thing you cut from the budget… along with staff who know how to send an email that's not an attached pdf.
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. 
Sure, they depend on them, but not enough so that they should be allowed to choose which legitimate, safe, legally licensed medical clinics they get them from. They depend on them, so there's not much they can do about it if we take away their doctor. What are they going to do? Boycott? They depend on this. We hold all the power here. Women have the power to just stop having sex and this whole thing would be solved. They wouldn't dependon this and we wouldn't have to tell them that they're not allowed to even look in the direction of an abortion clinic if they want us to pay their sex bills. 
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.”
It's not about the program at all. It's about  the "Texas solution" of bossing women around and the government being okay with it if those women don't get the care they need because someone else in the same building might be thinking about getting an abortion.
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.
Um…. so it's about the tax-dollars… so we're going to use more of our tax dollars to pay for it? Are Texans going to pay less in Federal taxes now? No? We're going to pay more in state taxes. We're going to pay more to get to legislate women's doctor choices and then we're going to call it FREEEEEEEEDOM! 
Because the big government isn't going to tell us Texans what to do while our small government is keeping careful watch over our women's vaginas. And the Federal Government can't just ignore laws that say that women can't get their pap smears at Planned Parenthood. It's Texas' job to ignore their laws that say that the government isn't allowed to intrude on personal choices of medical providers. Because only we can ignore laws. 
Big Government, you can't tell us not to meddle in the very personal and private lives of our citizens! This is about the power of the people to have their bodies controlled by a small government.
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.
Planned Parenthood makes up only 2% of WHP providers… so we don't need them. Especially since over 1 in 5 WHP participants use them. So there's ~2500 providers, and only ~50 PP clinics. and ~26,000 women choose PP. It sounds to me like Texas women overwhelmingly choose Planned Parenthood when it's an option. And like you're trying to make it sound like you're not taking a major health resource away from women who are poor because you don't think they're smart enough to pick the best provider for themselves.
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. 
Their decision? It sounds like it was your decision to let the funding be cut. 
And while this letter makes sure we know that only 20% of women will be losing their medical coverage for their preferred doctors (not counting women who went to abotion-providing clinics that weren't Planned Parenthood), they've made no mention of these women being provided an alternative or being guaranteed access to a health care provider. In fact, as of right now, Texas doesn't even know how it's going to fund the program at all.
It's sickening to me that I live in a state where women's health is considered expendable for politics. I guess Rick Perry doesn't realize that women in Texas now have the right to vote.
If you need me, I'll be desperately clinging to my private health insurance, begging it to never leave me, because I can't live through this state without it.
Featured image available as tshirt


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. By their numbers, Planned Parenthood conly constitutes 2% of the providers, but provides over 20% of the service.  So each PP clinic servers 10 times as many patients as the average provider.  Obviously insignificant.
    Also the fine print is that they are going to work with the legislature to find funding from the existing budget.  I wonder if they could cut childhood immunization or emergency ambulance services by $35M to cover it?
    Does PP provide services to women who want to have children?  Maybe Perry's secret agenda is to not provide aid to accessories after the fact to spermburglars?

  2. I came close to having to live in Texas when my company was sold to another company there.  For this and so many more reasons, I'm glad I chose to stay in California.  Even though I'm a man.  Of course, we have our own problems…

  3. Most people learn that cooties aren't real by the time they reach middle school.  Rick Perry apparently never met that developmental milestone, and he feels the need to keep abortion cooties away from everything else, like they'll just infest everyone and turn completely unrelated things into abortions.

  4. Women's health services are vital. Here in Taxachusetts we have so-called universal care yet many people are turned down, but it's still mandatory. I suggest voting for Jill Stein of the Green Party, a female physician who could kick Rick Perry's ass.

  5. I hate a love/hate relationship with this state. Ultimately, I want to get away. This sort of thing is par for the course down here.

  6. The PDF-in-an-e-mail thing is a common approach for (us) lawyers and public officials in general. They're concerned that recipients of an e-mail can all too easily alter the message and then forward it all over as (here) Rick Perry's work. PDFs can be altered, too, but it takes considerably more tech savvy, and the sending attorney could rebut any claims with the original letter that (s)he scanned into the PDF.
    So it's not stupidity; it's CYA, which is a necessary approach for lawyers and politicians.

  7. I'm afraid I don't believe anything in this article.  Republicans have made it clear that they don't want the government interfering with our medical decisions.

    1. Ah… But that is simple Mr. Funnypants. If you don't provide any, you can hardly claim to be "interfering" in it. ;) lol

    1. He can't without revamping the Canada Health Act, which requires significant provincial agreement, which he won't get. He would have to get rid of the universality clauses which the SCOC has already ruled on (which is why hospital boards no longer exist).
      Harper can't even close Insite, much as he wants to.

  8. It's not that they're removing abortions from the plan. Once a woman becomes pregnant, she's covered under a different plan (which doesn't cover abortions, but that's a different conversation).
    What these women were getting were other services… contraception, pap smears, pregnancy testing, STI testing, and such. They are no longer allowed to go to their provider, regardless of what their established relationship with that provider is, and regardless of their preference for that provider if that provider also, for other women, provides abortions.
    Even though your HMO doesn't cover plastic surgery, it probably covers reconstructive surgery, and definitely covers other kinds of surgery. This would be like your HMO telling you that your primary care doctor is no longer covered because there is a surgeon in that medical group who does plastic and reconstructive surgery. Even though you're not even going to your doctor for surgical care, you cannot see that doctor because someone else might come to that gorup to get bigger boobs.

  9. Also, for more clarification, this isn't that the federal government is pulling funding based on the providers list. The issue is that there can't be a provider list. For a state to receive federal funds for a Medicaid program, that state must allow patients the freedom to choose whichever proivders they feel comfortable with.
    So it's not an issue of what Obama wants vs what Perry wants, it's an issue of Perry taking away the right of women to go to a doctor that Perry doesn't like. So, as of right now, no another president couldn't come in and pull the funding on opposite grounds.
    Does that make sense?

  10. Let's put it this way: 
    Imagine if you have car insurance, and your insurance doesn't cover oil changes, but does cover engine work, body work, paint, and new tires. Then, imagine if your insurance company suddenly objects to oil changes, and doesn't allow you to get engine work, body work, paint, or tires at places that also offer oil changes. Now, almost all places that do engine work, body work, paint, and/or tires offer oil changes as well. 

  11. Yet another way to look at it:  suppose your "plastic surgeon" is actually a dermatologist who does things like scar removal as well as treating skin cancer, removing and/or biopsies on suspicious moles, etc.  Now suppose your insurance company decrees that you can't use that dermatologist (or other doctor at that practice) to do covered biopsies because they (or other doctors at the same practice) also do uncovered plastic surgery.  This is exactly what Perry proposes to do.
    Obviously, he wants to punish abortion providers by stiffling their business, which indirectly punishes their patients.

      1. It's some father knows best state bullshit is what it is. 
        And it's what angers me greatly about the right.  They DO want the ability to have the government meddle in your life as long as it's over an issue they agree with.  Rick Perry saying he wants small government is BULLSHIT.

      2. I'm sticking with indirectly, in the same sense as when Bart is swinging his arms around and tells Lisa that it's her fault if she happens to get in the way.

  12. This drives me crazy. I admit I'm not huge on abortion, just to preface this, but still.
    I like some things about Texas, but Rick Perry is NOT one of them. It absolutely blows my mind that he is still in any sort of control, since I have yet to meet a Texan who likes him.
    I don't think that there should EVER be a restriction on what doctor you go to based on what services they offer. I have no problem if certain procedures aren't covered (particularly for private insurance companies), but it's idiotic to say "oh well this doctor provides this procedure that we don't agree with, so nooope".

    If you need me, I'll be desperately clinging to my private health insurance, begging it to never leave me, because I can't live through this state without it.

    This is exactly why I don't support government-controlled healthcare. I get everyone's desire for everyone to have access to healthcare, but I would not trust a single person in government to decide what health care and what procedures I would have access to. If it were up to them, I would never have been able to have my tubal done at age 20, and I would not get any physical treatments for fibromyalgia. They can burn in hell before I will ever be okay with them deciding how to care for my health.

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