Rick Perry Should Terrify Anyone With a Uterus

rick perryIn his GOP presidential campaign, Gov. Rick Perry has touted Texas as a model for the United States time and time again. Now, that may be acceptable and even brag-worthy if we're talking about the economy and jobs growth; but when it comes to women's health, then it's downright terrifying.

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According to a recent report by NPR, when it comes right down to it, the health care system in Texas is pretty dismal regardless of which gender you are: Only 48 percent of Texans have private health insurance (with ridiculously high premiums), and more than a quarter of the state's population has no insurance at all -- more than any other state.

So how do people get medical care? Hospital emergency rooms and women's health clinics pick up the slack when people get sick. Okay. Of course, there are two main problems with Perry's model: 1) Many people don't have access to primary or preventative care; and 2) women are getting screwed out of health care. Here's how:

Hundreds of thousands of Texas women rely on the state's 71 family planning clinics in the state for health care -- including birth control, Pap smears, annual physicals, breast cancer screenings, as well as screenings for diabetes, thyroid disorders, anemia, and high cholesterol. (None of the clinics in the state that receive government funding provides abortions.) In fact, if it weren't for these women's health clinics, many Texas women would never get face-time with a nurse practitioner or doctor. Clearly, they are serving an important purpose.

Yet -- and here's where Texas women get screwed -- this year Perry and the Texas legislature cut funding for women's health clinics by two-thirds. They said it's to save money; but there's no denying that Perry's and other conservatives' pro-life, anti-birth control agenda was a major factor in the decision. (In another post we can discuss the irony of Texas spending more than any other state on teen pregnancy.) Even if their primary goal was just to cut funding for family planning, they managed to put women's health overall in jeopardy. Where are women supposed to go for basic health care?

Do we really want this replicated in the rest of the country?

 

Image via eschipul/Flickr

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