You are browsing the archive for Rick Perry.

How Having an Abortion in Texas Strengthened My Fight for Reproductive Rights

12:32 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Emily Rooke-Ley for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Texas Capitol Protest

Getting an abortion in Texas was an eye-opening experience for this pro-choice writer.

When I decided to come to Austin for a summer internship with NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, I knew I was signing up for an interesting few months. Although I had been working in the field of reproductive rights throughout high school and college, I was raised in Oregon—the only state in our nation that has yet to pass abortion restrictions in the 40 years since Roe v. Wade. And I attend college in New York, a state where there are no abortion restrictions prior to the 24th week of pregnancy. Before June, I had never been to Texas, let alone to the South.

I had read about the shaky state of reproductive rights in Texas, but I did not anticipate that I would be fighting tooth and nail with anti-choice legislators attempting to hastily and unfairly pass some of the most extreme and draconian abortion bills in the country during a special session, with the two-thirds rule conveniently suspended. I did not anticipate having to beg privileged legislators through my public testimony not to violate my privacy in their attempts to “help” me by doing what they think is best for me. (These legislators ultimately cut off my microphone and walked out on my testimony mid-sentence.)

And at 20 years old, entirely alone in a new city, I certainly did not anticipate having an abortion myself.

I found out I was pregnant on the first day of my internship. Contrary to common rhetoric, my choice to terminate my pregnancy was not the most difficult decision I have ever made, although don’t mistake this for carelessness. I had thought through this scenario before and was sure of my choice before I ever needed to be. Nevertheless, the process of having an abortion was, indeed, quite difficult—Texas law made sure of that. I knew Texas’ abortion restrictions: a 24-hour waiting period, a medically unnecessary sonogram, and a slew of propagandized literature lacking medical evidence. With the follow-up exam, that’s three visits to the clinic. These were all things I would have avoided in Oregon or New York, but doable for me, only because I had some money and my family’s support.

As I entered the clinic parking lot, I was greeted by a few protesters—all white, male, with Bibles in hand—attempting to shame and scare me in a moment when I most valued my privacy. I recall sitting in the NARAL office on the day before my procedure—the day after I’d sat through hours of heated public testimony on SB 5—when our office received a call from the very clinic where I had my appointment, alerting us to the aggressive presence of anti-choice protesters and the desperate need for clinic escorts. I had to excuse myself and went into the parking lot, where I sat behind a car and cried. I was terrified. I had previously thought about what it would be like to have an abortion, and I knew that, for me, it would be difficult. But, naturally, I had expected it would happen in Oregon or New York and, thus, be difficult because of whatever personal reasons, not because I would have to run the gauntlet of aggressive protesters.

Read the rest of this entry →

Who Really Controls Rick Perry and David Dewhurst?

11:45 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Amanda Marcotte for RH Reality Check.

Texas Lt. Gov Dewhurst

Who controls Rick Perry & Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst? It’s not Texas voters.

Less than a day after pro-choice activists and Democratic state senators defeated a massive anti-choice bill designed to shut down all but five abortion clinics in the whole state of Texas, Republican Gov. Rick Perry announced he would force a second special session of the legislature to force the bill through. He then went on to rub salt in the wound, making mockery of and condescending to state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), who conducted an 11-hour filibuster to keep the bill from a vote, a move that ultimately succeeded despite efforts by the GOP to rig the vote. Just in case you were unsure of Rick Perry’s apparent belief that the main purpose of government is control and surveillance of female sexuality, Perry went on to turn the creepy up to ten, saying, “The louder they scream, the more we know that we are getting something done.”

It’s hard to understand his belligerent, misogynistic behavior in service of a bill that only serves to hurt women’s health while creating a black market for abortion. After all, despite Texas’s conservative reputation, 80 percent of the voters in the state oppose calling special sessions to restrict abortion rights. Perry is doing this song and dance for only one out of five voters, the hardcore religious right, pretty much the only people who approve of this move by Texas Republicans to exploit a legislative loophole set up to deal with emergencies to cram through anti-choice bills that won’t pass regular legislative sessions. How has it gotten to the point where only 20 percent of the voters basically control the politics of a huge state like Texas, putting their vile obsession with punishing other people for sex above more pressing issues like jobs, infrastructure, and the economy? To understand how it happened in Texas is to understand why it is that anti-choice forces in general have so much power in a country where the majority of people are pro-choice and have been for decades.

In sum, the religious right is smart about exploiting the primary system, and your average Republican voter doesn’t know or care enough about how radical their politicians are to stop voting for them. Anti-choicers and hardline conservatives generally are way more likely to vote in primaries than your average voters, which means they consistently pick the most conservative candidate, even if the more moderate one has more experience or a better grasp on reality. The two most prominent voices on the anti-choice side during this abortion battle—Gov. Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst—both have learned in the course of their careers that you either pay fealty to the religious right because of this, or you will not be able to move forward in your political career.

Both Perry and Dewhurst have firsthand experience of how important it is for the hard right to like you if you want to run for major office as a Republican these days. Dewhurst learned the hard way, during a 2012 primary runoff against newcomer Ted Cruz for the Republican nomination to the Senate. Even though he’s been a pretty stalwart conservative for his entire career, the largely incorrect perception that he was an old school Republican who is more interested in business than the messy culture wars hurt him in the polls. As the New York Times reported, “Mr. Cruz relentlessly portrayed his opponent as a creature of the establishment who is too quick to compromise,” and primary voters, eager to prove their own culture war bona fides, rewarded Cruz for this posturing by giving him 57 percent of the vote.

Dewhurst learned the lesson: It’s not enough to, say, be anti-choice. You have to act like your very life depends on blocking as many women as possible from safe, legal abortion or the religious right will start to wonder if you’re just a pretender. In that light, Dewhurst’s behavior after the filibuster succeeded makes perfect sense. Most politicians would accept the defeat, read the polls showing most Texans support your opposition on this one, and go home. But Dewhurst likely doesn’t want another Tea Party insurgent running ads implying that he gave up easily, much less that he was beat by a woman. So it’s no surprise that he petulantly issued the threat for the second session as soon as he announced that the Texas senate missed the voting deadline and has run around posturing on this as much as possible for the media.

Read the rest of this entry →

“Nothing Changes” for Fifty Thousand Texans Forced to Find New Health Care Providers, Says State Attorney

9:29 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Andrea Grimes for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Nothing changes for her, other than she has to find a new doctor.”

A Texas planned parenthood

A Texas state attorney insists that defunding Planned Parenthood is no big deal.

That’s what attorney for the State of Texas Kristofer Monson told a judge last week when arguing for the state’s right to block Planned Parenthood from participating in its Texas Women’s Health Program (TWHP) because some Planned Parenthood clinics, wholly fiscally and geographically separate from others, provide safe, legal abortions. Nearly 50,000 Texans who are enrolled in the program will be forced to find new doctors for cancer screenings and contraception this year if the state gets its way; as of Monday, a judge’s refusal to grant a temporary injunction in favor of a Planned Parenthood patient fighting in court to continue seeing her regular doctor means that the health care provider is, for the first time, officially barred from the newly operational TWHP.

So, we’re meant to believe that nothing changes for “her,” for Texas’ tens of thousands of “hers,” other than they can no longer see the doctors and clinicians they’ve come to trust with their most intimate and private health needs? Kristofer Monson needs to check whatever he thinks the definition of “nothing” is.

Ladies, how long did it take you to find a gynecologist you clicked with? How many doctors were affordable but out of the way? How many doctors were expensive, but non-judgmental? How many doctors were right next door, but refused certain medications or procedures because of your age, sexuality, or marital status? How many of us are still looking, after years of trying, for a doctor that understands us and the needs of our families?

It’s hard enough to find a health provider when the State of Texas isn’t telling you who it thinks is qualified to treat you. But Texas thinks it has a right to tell poor women they can’t go to their usual doctors and nurses at Planned Parenthood, not because they provide inferior services or cost more money than other health providers—in fact, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services, Planned Parenthood has historically provided some of the most efficient, cost-effective family planning care in the state—but because they are “affiliates” of doctors who provide a legal medical procedure: abortion.

The state is strong-arming Texans in a not-at-all veiled attempt to legislate morality; it’s telling low-income women that if they want to get the contraception and cancer screenings that the state has agreed to provide for them, they can’t go to a doctor who admits that his or her politics clash with Rick Perry’s, or Dan Patrick’s, or Bill Zedler’s, or with that of any number of the conservative male lawmakers who have appointed themselves official reproductive health decision makers for Texans.

But listen to Kristofer Monson, little ladies! It’s no big deal to find a whole new person in whose hands to put your reproductive health—and reproductive parts. Show your breasts and vulvae to a whole new State of Texas-approved stranger this year, maybe it’ll be great. Or maybe it’ll be horribly embarrassing, even demeaning, who knows? The risk of low-income Texas women being treated by a doctor who believes in reproductive freedom is definitely worth it!

I know it may seem convenient and comforting to see familiar faces when you’re making some of the most important health care decisions of your life, but hey, try something new! Live a little! Even if it takes you miles out of the way, means you have to listen to a religious lecture or forces you to wait months for a doctor’s appointment. Maybe while you’re riding the bus or counting the days down to your pap smear-a-la-stranger, you’ll realize that Texas merely wants what Republicans think is best for you.

Photo by Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas.

Is Rick Perry’s Rejection of the Affordable Care Act Political Posturing or a Portent of What’s to Come?

10:27 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Andrea Grimes for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Texas Governor Rick Perry

Texas Governor Rick Perry (Photo: Ed Schipul / Flickr)

On Monday, Texas Governor Rick Perry publicly rejected two major tenets of the Affordable Care act, saying the state would not participate in the individual state exchanges nor in the federal Medicaid expansion. In a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released yesterday, Perry wrote that the “Orwellian-named PPACA” would “make Texas a mere appendage of the federal government when it comes to health care.”

Texas, which has the highest rate of uninsured people in the country – about one in four Texans currently have no insurance — could receive over a hundred million dollars from the federal government over the next few years, enabling the state to dramatically expand Medicaid overage to low-income adults who are not currently eligible. But, instead, Perry wrote that he believes the Medicaid expansion would “exacerbate the failure of the current system, and would threaten even Texas with financial ruin.”

Texas is already in serious financial trouble, and Perry’s dedication to rejecting any help, or dipping into state reserves, has put it in ever more dire straits. The state notably grappled with its multi-billion dollar budget shortfall during last year’s legislative session; Perry has repeatedly refused to tap into the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” to address the state’s health and education needs, opting instead to cut public services. Perry also turned down millions in federal Medicaid funding for the Women’s Health Program in order to exclude Planned Parenthood from participating in the program in Texas.

Perry’s claims in the Sebelius letter are woefully misinformed, according to one public health policy expert at Houston’s Rice University. Elena Marks, a Baker Institute Scholar in Health Policy at and former director of health and environmental policy for the City of Houston, says it’s a “shame” that Perry can’t see the good a state-run insurance exchange could do for Texas, because if Texas doesn’t set up its own exchange, the ACA ensures the federal government will do it for the state instead.

Read the rest of this entry →

Will Low-Income Women in Texas Find Care Without Planned Parenthood? An Analysis of the System Says the Answer is No

12:48 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Photobucket

Written by Andrea Grimes for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

While the State of Texas battles in court for what it says is its right to exclude Planned Parenthood from participating in the Medicaid Women’s Health Program (WHP) there, the Texas Health and Human Services commission is sending mixed messages to the more than 50,000 women who currently rely on Planned Parenthood for their care through the WHP.

Instead of waiting for the courts to decide whether Planned Parenthood, considered by the state of Texas to be an “abortion affiliate,” can participate in WHP, the state’s HHSC last week sent out a mailer to 100,000 low-income women enrolled in the program advising them that Planned Parenthood could no longer provide WHP services — despite the fact that it has not yet been excluded.

The mailer directed women to the new Texas Women’s Health Program website, which initially excluded Planned Parenthood from its provider listings, which have since been amended to include Planned Parenthood clinics. The site is meant to help WHP enrollees find doctors who will provide reproductive and contraceptive care, and at first glance appears to shore up Governor Rick Perry’s claims that the WHP would do just fine without Planned Parenthood, despite the fact that it provides services to half of the WHP’s members.

Governor Perry’s office and anti-choice lawmakers in the state have rallied behind the claim that “There are more than 2,500 qualified providers in the WHP that operate more than 4,600 locations across the state,” downplaying the significant role Planned Parenthood plays in bringing WHP access to low-income women. What Perry’s office doesn’t mention is that most of those providers are small clinics and individual doctors that aren’t currently equipped to take on the tens of thousands of women who will have to leave Planned Parenthood should the courts rule in favor of the State of Texas.

RH Reality Check set out to test the WHP’s non-Planned Parenthood provider listings over the past week and found that while initial searches of TexasWomensHealth.org turn up what appear to be hundreds of available providers, many of them don’t provide any kind of contraceptive care, don’t take Medicaid Women’s Health Program clients, or are simply misleading duplicate listings.

In Austin, for example, many WHP clients visit the Downtown Austin Clinic for contraceptives and cancer screenings. What if a resident of the 78702 zip code who formerly relied on Planned Parenthood had to suddenly find a new doctor?
Read the rest of this entry →

At Wits’ End: One Woman’s Story Highlights Texas Women Left In Limbo As Legal Battle Over Planned Parenthood Begins

11:41 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Andrea Grimes for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Women and their allies gather at the Texas State Capitol.

The Medicaid Women’s Health Program in Texas was working wonderfully for Christina LuQuis and her family until January of this year, when she found herself caught in the middle of Texas’ political fight to oust Planned Parenthood from the state’s federally-funded Medicaid program. In need of fast, affordable health care when complications surfaced with her IUD in January, LuQuis discovered that the system she’d relied on for years—the system that had served her and her family so well—might be taken away from her. Three months later, “might” has turned into a sure thing. Now, LuQuis says she’s “at wits’ end.”

After LuQuis and her husband had a daughter three years ago, they decided to look into hormone-free, semi-permanent birth control. An IUD seemed like the best option—except for the cost, which LuQuis found out could be as much as $750, much more than they could afford. That’s when she found out about the WHP.

“The paperwork wasn’t too much of a hassle and after a few weeks my Medicaid card came in the mail,” LuQuis told RH Reality Check via e-mail. “We took it down to Planned Parenthood and I got my IUD inserted.”

Problem solved—until January, when LuQuis’ IUD suddenly expelled itself. That’s when LuQuis realized, when re-applying for the WHP to get a new IUD, that Governor Rick Perry, Health and Human Services Commissioner Thomas Seuhs, Attorney General Greg Abbott and conservative lawmakers around the state had been making “efforts to defund Planned Parenthood at any cost.” And as for LuQuis, she said, “At any cost happened to be my contraception coverage unfortunately.”

Read the rest of this entry →

Rick Perry’s Vasectomy: The Governor’s Reliance on What He Denies to His Fellow Texans

12:01 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

"Vasectomy Brochure, Page 1" by kristykay on flickr

"Vasectomy Brochure, Page 1" by kristykay on flickr

Written by Carole Joffe for RH Reality Check.

Rick Perry has only two children?! As the biographical information flashed by on television during a recent debate of Republican presidential hopefuls, it was strangely incongruous to see that the rising star of the religious right was so woefully behind his competitors.   Rick Santorum and Jon Hunstman led the pack with seven kids each, followed by Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Michelle Bachman with five (and the 23 children she had fostered). To be sure, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain also had a paltry two, but they, unlike Perry, were not considered to be the new favorite of the social conservative wing of the Republican. Recent polls show Perry supplanting Bachman in that role, notwithstanding her impressive numbers.

Perry’s late entrance into the race saved him from the awkwardness of having to deal with the “pro-marriage pledge,” put forth by a leading Iowa conservative activist, and signed by some of his fellow candidates who had competed in that state’s straw poll. This pledge, among other things, asked signers to affirm that “robust childrearing and reproduction is beneficial to U.S. demographic, economic, strategic and actuarial health and security.”  (Shortly after his official entry into the race, Perry did sign yet another pledge, this one in support of a federal amendment against gay marriage).

The reason that Rick Perry has “only” two children, one can say with confidence about this normally private matter, is because of the widely disseminated fact of his vasectomy. cited in the New York Times among other places.  Read the rest of this entry →