I'm in Texas, where the weather's hot and the ladies are hotter (actually, the weather's wet this week, and the ladies are … never mind. That's me with a kickass fan at my signing at the Barnes and Noble in Houston last night, BTW. He does NOT hate women.)
But despite their extreme gorgeousness, it seems ladies don't get very much respect around here, at least not in the eyes of the state's Republican Legislature, which cut funding for women's health by two-thirds last fall. I'm not saying the Texas State Legislature is the only state government run by jerks who hate ladies. But it's the state in which I happen to be hanging out right now, so I'm fascinated by their particular mesquite-flavored form of misogyny. Check out this eyebrow-raising info from the New York Times:
The cuts, which left many low-income women with inconvenient or costly options, grew out of the effort to eliminate state support for Planned Parenthood. Although the cuts also forced clinics that were not affiliated with the agency to close — and none of them, even the ones run by Planned Parenthood, performed abortions — supporters of the cutbacks said they were motivated by the fight against abortion.
So because some Planned Parenthood health centers somewhere perform abortions, Texas forced a bunch of health centers that don't perform abortions to close down. That makes sense. And for even more conservative-backed genius, here's some additional info from the Old Gray Lady.
Now, the same sentiment is likely to lead to a shutdown next week of another significant source of reproductive health care: the Medicaid Women’s Health Program, , which serves 130,000 women with grants to many clinics, including those run by Planned Parenthood. Gov. Rick Perry and Republican lawmakers have said they would forgo the $35 million in federal money that finances the women’s health program in order to keep Planned Parenthood from getting any of it.
The Medicaid Women's Health Program offers free annual well-woman exams (screenings for breast and cervical cancer, diabetes, STDs, high blood pressure, etc.) and birth control to women who are on the low end of the economic scale. Like all federal programs, it does not provide funding for abortions. Wait times at one clinic in Hidalgo County are apparently up to four weeks long. I can only imagine that there are similar problems in other Texas counties.
And if Governor Rick Perry succeeds in shutting down the Medicaid Women's Health Program, I'm sure even more clinics will have to close, rendering even longer wait times at the clinics that somehow duck the budget cuts.Thankfully, the fine-ass cowgirls in this gigantor state are standing up for themselves and demanding the right to, you know, not die prematurely because some douchebag decided that the rights of a collection of cells were more important than a cervical cancer screening for a grown-up, non-in-utero ladyperson.
(I say "a collection of cells" because the vast majority of abortions occur in the first trimester, contrary to the popular conservative meme of viable, fully grown infants being terminated in the womb by a greedy doctor at the behest of a murderous, slutty mother who has suddenly decided that a baby is an inconvenience her bikini body just can't afford.)
The gals in Midland threw themselves a big Don’t Mess With Texas Women rally Thursday night. They're taking the show on the road to Lubbock on Friday night and to Austin on Tuesday, with funding set to end on Wednesday. I wish I were going to still be around so I could go and interview the brave chicks standing up for themselves and their sister-friends, but I have to hop a plane back to NYC, which by comparison is a veritable wonderland for vagina-havers.
Incidentally, this whole shitbag kerfuffle reminds me yet again why Southern liberals and feminists are the best liberals and feminists in the nation: because they're actually still fighting the fight many of us elitist Yankees feel we won years ago. A lot of the rest of us grew up soft, but these Southern feminists are tough as nails and ready to kick some serious ass. My cowgirl hat is off to them.
The Texas State Legislature may hate women, but the hardcore bitches of Texas are ready to kick some conservative ass. I only wish my heroine Molly Ivins were around to lend her voice to this debate. I imagine she'd have a hell of a lot to say.