Politics and women's health are colliding. A state rule that forces Planned Parenthood out of the Texas Women's Health Program went into effect Wednesday.
The Obama Administration is responding by preparing to freeze federal funding for the program that serves more than 100,000 low-income women.
Statewide, Planned Parenthood reps say they care for more than 40 percent of patients in the Medicaid Women's Health Program. These changes affect women right here in the Brazos Valley.
Natasha Bradford is a mother of four children.
"It's not the males that have to push out anything," she said. "It's us women."
This is how the 25 year-old feels about Texas lawmakers forcing Planned Parenthood out of the Medicaid Texas' Women's Health Program.
"It played a major part in my life," she said, adding that she's been using the program for four years.
"For one, it helps with my birth control as in no more kids and all my exams, my checkups," Bradford said.
In fact, since 2007, more than 2,800 women in the Brazos Valley are now receiving preventative health care through the Texas' Women's Health program.
"They do all kinds of testings and everything. Women's Health is a really good thing to be on," Bradford said.
The Obama administration is halting funding for the 30 million-per-year program because the Texas law allegedly violates federal Medicaid regulations. The program is 90 percent federally funded.
"It's becoming very crucial out here, very crucial, Bradford said. "Without those checkups and exams, how do you know what's going on with your body?"
Governor Perry is pledging to keep the program up and running with state funding. So where's the money coming from? Education funds? Our rainy day fund? Maybe, other state funds? No one really knows because Governor Perry hasn't given any specifics.
So what if Bradford didn't have this program to rely on?
"I'd have a lot more kids," she said.
The transition to a fully state-run program won't be immediate. Texas health officials say it will take a few weeks.
Melaney Linton, the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood, Gulf Coast, released this statement:
"If the governor has suddenly identified newly available state funding to support women's health and birth control, we urge him to immediately restore the $73 million for breast and cervical cancer screenings, HIV tests, birth control and health exams that was eliminated on September 1, 2011."
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