Thursday, May 3, 2012

Rally in support of Texas Women's Health Program at Planned Parenthood in McAllen

A rally was held early Monday evening in support of the Texas Women's Health Program offered at Planned Parenthood clinics.

Julisa McCoy was a 23-year-old UTPA student who participated in the rally outside the McAllen clinic off Hackberry Street.

She's also 1 of about 6,500 women in Hidalgo County who relies on health services and contraception provided at Planned Parenthood.

"It's allowed me to seek the preventive and reproductive care that I need as a woman... as a young woman, without having to take on an additional load or responsibility which is a second job," she said.

Texas law bans Planned Parenthood from participating in the Texas Women's Health Program, federal-state Medicaid program for the poor, because the organization provides abortions.

A federal judge temporarily blocked the new Texas rule on Monday, citing it as unconstitutional.

Planned Parenthood's Hidalgo County CEO, Patricio Gonzales, says none of the clinics in the Rio Grande Valley offer abortions and calls the move to exclude the organization from funding, a political ploy.

"It does not subsidize in anyway...for that service... We can't even council on abortion with this program," he said.

"The injunction likely buys Planned Parenthood and the women they serve about 3 to 4 months before a judge rules again in the case.

The Texas Governor's Office has indicated the State will aggressively fight to keep that ban in place.

Catherine Frazier, Governor Rick Perry's Press Secretary sent this statement to Action 4 News: "Texas has a long history of protecting life, and we are confident in Attorney General Abbott's appeal to defend the will of Texans and our state law, which prohibits taxpayer funds from supporting abortion providers and affiliates in the Women's Health Program. We will continue to work with the Attorney General to pursue all available legal options."

There are fears an outright ban will burden an already fragile healthcare system and leave many of the 130,000 women enrolled in the program statewide with no basic health care and contraception.

"They would be displaced, they would not have a provider to go to," Patricio said.

Julisa has been using Planned Parenthood for the last four years.

"I don't know what I would do," she said in response to a possible ban. "I'd have to wait until the end of the month to see I have enough money... Or save enough money... Or just go without it... And it seems that more than likely it would be the latter."

The Texas Women's Health Program began in 2007 with the ban in place.

Texas only notified the federal government last year of its intent to begin enforcing the ban.

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