Controversy is brewing in Texas over plans to cut funding to the state's Women's Health Program. Friday, the Obama administration announced that federal money for that Medicaid program would not be extended to the state and will disappear by September.
They say they've decided to stop the funding because Governor Perry and the Texas Legislature forced them into it.
There is a federal law that says women must be allowed to pick any clinic of their choice when using the Women's Health Program. However, beginning next week, the state of Texas will begin enforcing a law that cuts off money to any clinic affiliated with an abortion provider. The Obama administration says that law means women don't have the choice any longer.
Federal funding for the Women's Health Program in Texas will be phased out between May and September of this year. It's a decision Pam Brink, the Chair of the Lubbock Democratic Party, says was forced by Governor Perry and the Legislature.
"They set it up because they made these particular qualifications about organizations that offer women's health care, if in any way, they are affiliated with terminating a pregnancy," Brink said.
However, Carl Tepper, the Vice-Chair of the Lubbock Republican Party, says it's not that simple.
"There's about 300 providers not affiliated with abortion clinics. From what I understand, there's only one affiliated with abortion and that's Planned Parenthood," Tepper said.
The Women's Health Program serves 130,000 low income women in Texas. It provides screenings for cervical and breast cancers. It also provides birth control and STD treatments. Federal funds cover 90 percent of the program, and without the money, many worry about the future of the program. Brink says she blames that on the Perry administration. She says the President had no choice but to cut the funding.
"That legislature and that governor have been working to cut women's health care funding over and over again," Brink said.
Tepper disagrees. He says President Obama and his administration had a choice and they made the wrong one.
"We send a lot of money to the federal government and deserve to get some of it back in the services that the federal government provides. They are choosing, because of political purposes, where they're going to send that funding, and it's not going to be to Texas," Tepper said.
Governor Perry has blasted the Obama administration's decision. Perry says he will use state money to save the program's ability to provide cancer screenings and other women's wellness services.
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