DALLAS — It’s no secret that Gov. Rick Perry never stopped campaigning against President Obama, even after high-tailing it
back to Texas after a less-than-stellar presidential run.
The governor’s been dishing it out on voter ID and abortion while surrounded by mostly like-minded folk in the red state Texas. Until this week, that is. Now Perry’s Facebook page is drawing thousands of comments pointedly taking him to task for cutting off federal funds for women’s health programs because some clinics are operated by Planned Parenthood.
Many of the comments are from women facetiously seeking advice on their menstrual periods, since he’s styled himself as an expert on women’s health.
“I would like your opinion since I can’t make medical decisions myself being a woman and all,’’ one woman wrote on Perry’s Facebook wall.
“Since you know so much about my healthcare, I was wondering if you could tell me how to handle my period since it is very heavy 4 days out of every month. What is the best product so I can have a productive day during these times or do you think I should just stay at home and call in sick or better yet quite my job since I can’t make my own decisions maybe I shouldn’t be working. What is your medical position on this issue?’’
The mocking comments signal considerable frustration over the Perry’s highly visible role in cutting off federal Medicaid money for the Texas Women’s Health Program.
Although Texas has previously accepted $31 million per year in federal funds for the program, Perry and state Republican lawmakers said they can no longer abide that money flowing through Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas, even though participating clinics don’t provide abortions.
The battle over the Texas Women’s Health program, which provides cancer screenings, pap smears, hormone patches, birth control and other basic services to more than 130,000 low-income women, has played out like a gunfight in a spaghetti western.
State officials warned that they would stop accepting money from the federal government unless they could cut off funding for Planned Parenthood clinics.
Federal officials warned that selectively cutting out certain clinics would jeopardize funding. Texas did it anyway. The federal government halted the money. Perry said Texas would pick up the slack so services will continue, but he didn’t say how, particularly as the state faces another looming budget crisis.
And on Friday, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sued the federal government over the issue, with Perry’s blessing.
“This is about life and the rule of law, which Texas respects and the Obama Administration does not,’’ Perry said in a statement last week.
Previously, Perry has said the federal government is intruding on the state’s rights, sounding very much like Perry the presidential candidate.
“It is the height of political posturing for the Obama Administration to put the interests of abortion providers and their affiliates, like Planned Parenthood, over the well-being of more than 100,000 low-income Texas women,’’ Perry said in a statement last week.
As of Monday afternoon, more than 4,000 comments were posted on Perry’s Facebook wall.
The backlash, such as it is, is expected to continue Tuesday, as protesters take to the streets outside the Capitol in Austin for the third week in a row. Clad in red clothes, the protestors have said they’re “seeing red” over the fate of the women’s health program.
Lori Stahl is a Texas journalist who covers politics. Follow her on Twitter at @LoriStahl.
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