Rick Perry and the race to the bottom on women’s health
Contact: Planned Parenthood Action Fund Media Office, 212-261-4433
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry announced his campaign for president today, adding to the already crowded field of candidates with records of attacking women’s health and putting politicians in the middle of a woman's most personal health care decisions.
Statement from Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:
“Rick Perry has dismantled women’s health care in Texas and blocked thousands of women from having access to the care they need. He has shown, time and again, that he is willing to sacrifice women’s health to score political points, and women in Texas have paid the price. The policies that Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, and other Republican contenders support are dangerous for women and are deeply unpopular with the American public. If anyone wonders what the stakes are for women in this election – and how women will be impacted by the policies the next president sets – look no further than Rick Perry’s Texas, where more than 70 women’s health centers have been shut down and 55 percent of women report that they’re having trouble getting basic reproductive health care services.”
Rick Perry’s positions on women’s health:
- Rick Perry wants to overturn Roe v. Wade and ban abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.
- Rick Perry supports extreme personhood measures, which would ban abortion and could interfere with access to some of the most effective forms of birth control.
- Despite public outrage, Rick Perry supported legislation that forces government-mandated ultrasounds on women seeking an abortion and requires the provider to describe the image to the woman against her will.
- Rick Perry has approved massive funding cuts to women’s health programs in Texas, cutting Texas women off from accessto preventive care that health centers like Planned Parenthood provide, including lifesaving cancer screenings, affordable birth control, and well-woman visits. These cuts have forced more than 70 of the women’s health centers in Texas to shut their doors. and contributed to 54 percent fewer patients at family planning programs.
- Rick Perry insists that ineffective abstinence-only programs are “the best form” of sex education, despite the fact that Texas now has the third highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation.
- Rick Perry opposes the Affordable Care Act and left his office in Texas with the nation’s highest uninsured rate, for the fifth consecutive year in a row.
- Rick Perry has fought against the preventive benefit and no-copay birth control, despite the fact that his home state of Texas has the third highest teen pregnancy rate and one of the highest rates of overall unintended pregnancies in the nation.
Impact on women in Texas:
- In a study of all 50 states’ health care policies known to improve the health and well-being of women and children, Rick Perry’s home state of Texas ranks among the bottom 11 states with the worst “overall well-being” ratings for women and children.
- In January, the State of Texas Health and Human Services Commission issued a grim report revealing that 30,000 fewer women received health care through the Texas Women’s Health Program (WHP) in fiscal year 2013 than in fiscal year 2011, following the state’s takeover of the program in order to ban Planned Parenthood under Rick Perry’s administration. The Dallas Morning News reported that “the areas with the highest drops in the number of women served by the program occurred in areas where Planned Parenthood clinics shuttered.”
- A recent study found that 55 percent of Texas women surveyed now face at least one barrier to reproductive health care, including affordability of services and access to providers with whom they feel comfortable.
- In 2012, 1,749,450 women in Texas were in need of publicly supported contraception; and thanks to the Affordable Care Act,over 4 million women now have access without a copay, which is especially important for the one sixth of all Texas womenwho live under the poverty line.
- In Texas, the publicly funded family planning services provided in 2010 at safety-net health centers, including Planned Parenthood, helped save $748,844,000 in public funds.
- In 2012 only 13 percent of the need for publicly funded family planning services in Texas was met by safety-net family planning centers, the lowest proportion in the country—and less than half the national average.
- While Rick Perry was in office, from 2000 to 2012, the number of Texas woman needing publicly supported contraceptive care grew by 34 percent, to more than 1.7 million. And, nearly half (45%) of these women were uninsured in 2012, the highest proportion in the nation.
- In the absence of the publicly supported family planning services provided at safety-net health centers like Planned Parenthood, the rates of unintended pregnancy, unplanned birth and abortion would be 19 percent higher in Texas, and the teen pregnancy rate would be 28 percent higher.
- The nearly 40 Planned Parenthood health centers located in Texas served more than 163,000 patients in 2013.
In Rick Perry’s own words:
- Rick Perry called Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision which granted women the legal right to abortion, shameful: "Roe v. Wade is nothing but a shameful footnote in our nation's history books." [Reuters, 6/13/11]
- Rick Perry wants to appoint judges to the Supreme Court that share his belief that life begins at conception and will work to overturn Roe v. Wade: "I happen to believe in putting justices on the Supreme Court that are pro-life, and Roe v. Wade would be found to be unconstitutional. It would go back to the states until there would be a constitutional amendment in the United States that would clearly defend life and that life be from the time of conception until death and I would support that pro-life amendment in a constitutional way." [Youtube.com, 11/16/11]
- Rick Perry gave his blessing to a lawsuit filed by Texas and six other states against the Obama administration challenging the law that requires insurance companies to cover birth control and other preventive health care without a copay. [Houston Chronicle, 2/24/12]
- With Perry's blessing, then Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sued the federal government over the issue of banning funds in the Texas Women's Health Program from going to Planned Parenthood health centers. Perry defended the lawsuit, saying: "We don't want Planned Parenthood and their affiliates who are in the abortion business engaged in this process, it's just pretty straight up." [CBS News, 3/15/12]
- When Perry was challenged on this position due to the fact that money is restricted from funding abortions, Perry responded: "We would rather be very sure of it." Previously, Perry bragged that the budget he signed in 2011 largely defunded Planned Parenthood in the state. [CBS News, 3/15/12; Think Progress, 10/17/11]
- Perry bragged that the budget he signed in 2011 largely defunded Planned Parenthood in the state by cutting the state's family planning budget by nearly 66 percent. In 2012, Perry rejected federal Title X funds rather than allow them to be used at Planned Parenthood affiliates. Wrote columnist Frank Rich, "Republicans in state government are not waiting for a Romney presidency to gut Title X and act on the rest of their wish list. Rick Perry has already rejected Title X money for Texas." [Think Progress, 10/17/11; New York, 3/25/12]
- In defense of abstinence-only programs in Texas, Rick Perry said: “I’m just going to tell you from my own personal life. Abstinence works. If the point is ... we're going to stand up here and say, 'Y'all go have sex and have the whatever is going on ... and here's the ways to have safe sex' – I'm sorry; call me old-fashioned if you want, but that's not what I'm going to stand up in front of the people in the state of Texas and say, 'That's the way we need to go, and forget about abstinence.'" [Texas Tribune, 10/8/10 -- 52:10, Austin Chronicle, 10/28/11]
- In defense of invasive government mandated ultrasounds, Rick Perry said, "Every life lost to abortion is a tragedy, and this important sonogram legislation ensures that every Texas woman seeking an abortion has all the facts about the life she is carrying, and understands the devastating impact of such a life-ending decision. We will continue to fight any attempt to limit our state's laws that value and protect the unborn," Perry said. [CNN, 1/10/12]
About Planned Parenthood Action Fund:
Planned Parenthood affiliates provide health care to 2.7 million patients every year — including lifesaving cancer screenings, preventive health care, birth control, and abortion services. Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading women’s health provider and advocate. Planned Parenthood Action Fund works to ensure that people continue to have access to those health care and education services — by advocating for laws and policies that protect women’s health, and educating voters about how candidates’ positions would affect women’s health.
If you have any questions, please contact the Planned Parenthood Action Fund media line at [email protected].
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Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.