Texas’s War on Women

Texas Director of Health and Human Services Tom Suehs signed into law yesterday a state ban on giving Medicaid funds to any doctor or clinic affiliated with organizations that provide abortion (government funds are already barred from directly funding abortion). The law may shut down the state Women’s Health Program, which funds basic health services such as mammograms and Pap smears for over 130,000 low-income Texas women–44 percent of which are provided by Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood responded:

Texas women and Texas taxpayers need this program. The Medicaid Women’s Health Program saves lives, prevents unintended pregnancies and saves taxpayer dollars. For many women, Medicaid WHP is their only source of health care.

The Obama Administration has warned Texas that the decision violates federal law, which states that Medicaid and Medicare cannot exclude qualified providers. But the Texas Health and Human Services Comission argues that states are legally allowed to establish their own provider criteria. If Texas does not budge, the Women’s Health Program will be dissolved when the new law goes into effect on March 14.

Texas was already on the front lines of the nationwide conservative war on women’s health. A sonogram bill–similar to the proposed Virginia law that was withdrawn after outcry last week–was enacted in Texas in 2011. Women seeking abortions in Texas must receive a sonogram and detailed description of the development of the fetus at least 24 hours before the scheduled procedure. Doctors also must offer to play sounds of the fetus’ heartbeat. The need for appointments with the same doctor on two different days has caused massive scheduling problems for Texas clinics.

Like the failed Virginia law, the 2011 Texas bill forces women to receive the medically unnecessary and intrusive “transvaginal ultrasound.” This is because the majority of women get abortions during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, when the fetus is too small to be picked up on in an abdominal ultrasound, so a transvaginal probe must be used. In other words, Texan women in need of abortion services are forced to be vaginally penetrated without a choice of whether to consent. Notably, Texas Penal Code defines sexual assault as “intentionally or knowingly caus[ing] the penetration of the anus or sexual organ of another person by any means, without that person’s consent.”

In sum, Texas last year made abortion as difficult as possible for women and now has cut off 130,000 low-income women from affordable birth control and other health services. The war on women marches on.

Sign below to protest the defunding of women’s health services:

[iframe http://msmagazine.com/blog_care2_texasPP.asp 500 240]

Photo from Flickr user Mister-E under Creative Commons 3.0.


  1. Donna Davis says:

    every citizen in the state of Texas should read this blog!
    Lets stop this now!

  2. Amberlee Brooks says:

    I’m protesting against taking away the Medicaid whp

  3. Freakin ridiculous!! It’s 2012 people and a woman has the right to do what she wants with her body. This makes me crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. As one of those 130,000 women, I am livid. I rely on the Women’s Health Program not only to manage my choice not to start a family with my husband, but to help me detect and prevent cancer and other illnesses. Every woman in my matrilineal line has been diagnosed with some form of ovarian or uterine cancer by the age of 25 – how am I supposed to afford the ability to keep myself healthy when I don’t make enough for an insurance policy in the first place? 130,000 women didn’t lose their ability to get “free abortions” – they lost the only way they had to take care of themselves and their bodies. So now my choices in life are going to be celibacy as a married woman or $15,000 in hospital bills for having a baby – or as far as cancer is concerned hundreds of thousands of dollars or a painful DEATH?

    Today I am truly, truly ashamed of my state. First because they would even pass this unconstitutional law in the first place, and secondly because of how many people who couldn’t care less and unwilling to do something about it for their friends, sisters, mothers, aunts, cousins…

  5. The link to protest the defunding doesn’t appear on my screen, and the link for the tv ultrasound goes to a page with nowhere to sign/input info. What gives?? I’m using iPhone 3GS, fyi. Thanks!

  6. The link labeled “Sign here to protest the transvaginal ultrasound law!” does not have a link to sign a petition!

  7. The Obama Administration, not the Legislature and the Governor, will be to blame for killing the Women’s Health Program (WHP), if the Obama Administration does not renew the program because Planned Parenthood is excluded.

  8. melissa jackson says:

    I don’t understand how Rick Perry bragged at the debates about his policy on the Gardicil shot then allows these laws to pass. Women in power need to pass laws to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. Ultimately drug companies are raping the public with their outrageous prices.

    Prescription drug companies should be sued to and forced to reduce the cost of their products.
    BC should be around the same price point as a bottle of headache meds like Tylenol or Advil.

    The government should have no place in women’s health other than protecting our freedom to obtain it
    at fair and reasonable price. Dr need to be sued for their outrageous office visit pricing. Why do we need insurance companies to pay for things like annual paps, physicals, non surgical care? Its a crazy system and needs to be put in check. People think the mortgage crisis is only the fault of big banks. I work in collections and I would say the #1 reason is high medical bill\prescriptions, #2 is loss of income\job, divorce\death.

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