My name is Rene and I live in Odessa, Texas, a small town in rural West Texas. For those unfamiliar with West Texas, there aren’t many health care providers for women like me to choose from. And as a 25 year old college student, private insurance is out of reach.
For the past five years, the Women’s Health Program and Planned Parenthood have been there for me – no matter what. They are there for my sister, too, and Planned Parenthood was there for our mom, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer at about my age after an abnormal test at Planned Parenthood.
Governor Perry’s budget cuts have already forced one Planned Parenthood in my community to close. Another one has reduced its hours.
Now Governor Perry is trying to re-create the state-funded Texas Women’s Health Program, and cut Planned Parenthood out of it – even though for countless women like me, Planned Parenthood is the only regular health provider we have. Not to mention it is the provider we have grown to trust.
As a patient of Planned Parenthood, and an enrollee in the Women’s Health Program, I want a voice in Governor Perry’s overhaul of the program. I should be able to decide who provides my healthcare. Planned Parenthood has been a place my family relies on and has served us well through the years.
I am writing the Department of State Health Services asking that it hold a public hearing on its proposal to kick Planned Parenthood out of the Texas Women’s Health Program. Under Texas state law, if 25 people request a hearing on a proposed rule, it has to be granted.
While I’m only one person, there are countless women just like me throughout Texas. Please join me in asking for a public hearing on this proposal that could take preventive health care away from me, and tens of thousands of women just like me.
Without the Women’s Health Program and Planned Parenthood, I don’t know what I would do, or where I would go for the cancer screenings I know I need.
Please sign my petition. Politics should not interfere with women’s access to basic health care in the state of Texas. And the women at risk of losing services deserve a voice.
As the nation’s leading family planning provider – in fact, one in five women in America has turned to Planned Parenthood at some point in her life – Planned Parenthood currently provides care to more than 40 percent of the women receiving Women’s Health Program services.
Barring Planned Parenthood from the Texas Women’s Health Program would have serious consequences for women’s health. Recent research by the George Washington University School of Public Health that found other providers would have to expand their WHP capacity 12-fold in order to offset the loss of Planned Parenthood health centers in the Women’s Health Program. This is an unlikely possibility, especially when last year Texas drastically cut its family planning funding and slashed access to care for an estimated 160,000 Texan women.
When a Federal District Court Judge stopped the state from enforcing a rule blocking Planned Parenthood from the current Women’s Health Program, he shared my concerns: “The record demonstrates that [Planned Parenthood] currently provide[s] a critical component of Texas' family-planning services to low-income women . . . The court is unconvinced that Texas will be able to find substitute providers for these women in the immediate future.”
It is out of concern for the tens of thousands of low-income Texas women like Rene who rely on Planned Parenthood and the Women’s Health Program for cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams that I urge you to hold a public hearing on the matter as soon as possible.