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FPH Weekly Podcast, #37
April 16, 2012 – 8:41 pm | No Comment

Let’s talk about fiscal conservatism, Mills McCoin’s eyeliner, and all things Houston. Ha!

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Home » Featured, Local and State

Free My Vagina: How Texas Is Turning Women Into Second Class Citizens

Submitted by @BrittanyBly on April 2, 2012 – 7:33 pmNo Comment
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By Amanda Hart

Illustrations by Sarah Welch

Does anyone else feel as though we’ve had far too many “What the fuck” moments lately? We all said it when Rush Limbaugh ran his mouth about how if he had to pay for women to have birth control than he deserved sex tapes. Or when Rick Santorum said that a woman who was raped and impregnated should accept her gift from God and make the best of a bad situation. Or when New Hampshire passed a bill that states that abortion doctors must tell all women that abortion causes breast cancer (lies). Or when Georgia passed the ‘fetal pain’ bill that requires doctors to not perform abortions after 20 weeks (which means women would have to carry a dead or dying fetus to term and any doctor who made the decision to terminate could face up to 10 years in prison). Or Arizona (I think more ‘what the fuck’ moments crawl out of their ass than ours) passing a bill allowing doctors the right to legally lie to women about birth defects to avoid abortion or giving employers the right not only to ask if a woman is taking birth control but to fire her if she is (Seriously, WTF?).

In the past when talking about the war on women many people would roll their eyes and pass it off as women just being dramatic. Not anymore. The outrage has begun. Unfortunately, it was brushed aside for so long that now the penises and self hating vaginas that run this country think they can get away with anything. So far it would appear they’re right.

So when I got the news last week that Rick Perry had rejected the $35 million in federal funds that would have gone to help low income women have access to family planning, I didn’t exactly faint. Sure I was disgusted, outraged, and worried about what this means for Texas women and families, myself included, and even dumbfounded that in the year 2011 we are still debating this shit. Something as simple and necessary as birth control and wellness exams are being denied simply because Republicans couldn’t restrict where women choose to get their pap smears or breast exams.

The Texas Women’s Health Program had been in place since 2007 and since its inception it has helped countless women and families all over Texas. The program has gone unopposed with no changes since 2007. Well, until recently that is. Perry and the gang decided that they would reject the program if they could not restrict women from choosing Planned Parenthood as their service provider.  Obviously the federal government, which pays for 90% of the program, rejected this ridiculous demand. When Perry refused to allow the program to remain as is the $35 million was stripped from our budget and the 130,000 women all across Texas (17,000 of which live in or near Houston) that rely on this program paid the price. And I’ll keep paying for it every month when my access to birth control is cut off and my uterus sheds its lining every fucking month. This is not just personal because I, like many women, want to be able to control when I choose to have a family but it is also personal because my body depends on birth control to regulate my periods and my health. I have a female specific health disorder called Endometriosis (look it up if you really want to know the details) and besides having surgery again, access to birth control helps to manage the pain and severity of my disorder. So when Perry decided to cut off my access to the one thing in my life that keeps my body from shutting down I took it a little bit personally. And my disorder is just one of many that birth control regulates on a monthly basis. But if the men who run the Texas Legislation took the time to understand birth control and all the positive roles it plays in our society I would not be writing this article right now.

The Texas Women’s Health Program (TWHP) was about prevention and making sure that women not only had access to birth control but to wellness exams every year as well. And when we live in a state where 1 in 4 women is uninsured already, stripping them of their access to an annual wellness exam is going to be devastating. Not just on women’s bodies but on our budget as well. In fact, the 2011 Texas Legislative Budget Board (TLBB) report stated that the TWHP was the most cost effective program in the state. According to the TLBB the program saved the state $41 million a year and in their opinion should be expanded to include more women. The TLBB also estimated that Medicaid births would go up by $231 million if the program was cut. And Medicaid was already under funded this past legislation by $4 billion dollars. I think all the fiscally conservative legislators that allowed this to happen and the people who voted for them should reexamine their so called values.

I recently heard Perry state in an interview that Texas women should not be worried because the state of Texas will come up with the $35 million in federal funds that are now lacking. Which would be laughable if the Texas Legislation had not cut family planning from $111 million to $38 million effectively leaving 300,000 women without access to services. Which means that this year 430,000 women will be left without birth control, cervical exams, breast exams, STD testing, and other basic healthcare. Do I have your attention now?

These cuts took effect in September 2011 and already over 20 family planning facilities in Texas were forced to close their doors. Not just Planned Parenthood but non Planned Parenthood providers as well. Many of which were located in small towns and were the only family planning facilities available. And when we live in a state that has the 3rd highest rate of cervical cancer in the country these services should be considered priceless and not used as political pawns.

This war on women and Planned Parenthood has gone far enough. One in five women in their lifetime will choose Planned Parenthood as their family planning facility. Over the last 95 years, Planned Parenthood has provided more preventative care than any other organization in the states. Neither federal nor state money has ever gone to fund abortions. I feel that this should be a well known by now but just for the sake of argument I thought I would clarify. Pure and simple, this politically motivated attack was an attempt to control women’s decisions, and when they realized they couldn’t they took our health and livelihoods as well. Turns out women know more about their bodies and family planning than all the Legislators combined. We don’t need you to choose our healthcare providers for us. We are quite capable and highly informed.

So what now? Help Defend Women’s rights on April 28th, 2012. I ask you to join us for the National Protest Against the War on Women in Austin at 4pm. This goes beyond party lines and has an impact on our entire community. We need to stand together and demand equal rights and equal representation for all. For more information visit www.unitewomen.org

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