Updated: Tuesday, 04 Sep 2012, 5:25 PM CDT
Published : Tuesday, 04 Sep 2012, 10:49 AM CDT
AUSTIN (KXAN/AP) - Tempers are flaring as Texas weighs what its Women's Health Program could look like after the federal government pulls funding. Tuesday's public hearing before the Department of State Health Services boiled down to abortion and Planned Parenthood, which now serves nearly half of the 130,000 patients in the program.
A 2011 state law aimed to keep groups like Planned Parenthood with ties to abortion providers from receiving the funding. As the rule is meant to go into effect in November, opponents are racing to find another solution.
“I learned that I have Human Papiloma Virus, the virus that causes cervical cancer,” said Amy Kamp, who uses services from the program at a Planned Parenthood clinic in East Austin.
When Amy Kamp found out she had this potentially life-threatening disease, she turned to the clinic for regular screenings. Now working one job and looking for another, she still has no insurance and very little money to pay for that prevention on her own.
“If it's not monitored, that's how women develop cervical cancer,” Kamp said.
The Women's Health Program pays for services like cancer screenings and birth control. However, abortion still remained the sticking point for many at the hearing, even though the money does not go toward abortions.
“I am not in favor of tax dollars being used to promote abortion,” said Judy Ames, an Austin mother who spoke during the hearing.
In a time when legislative budget cuts have forced dozens of family planning clinics to close, the state said women Planned Parenthood now serves could still find another provider. But there is concern there are not enough clinics to manage the amount of women seeking services.
But the biggest question is where Texas will get the money to set out on its own without the federal funding. State officials have previously said they would find it within available funds, though specifics have not been discussed. Federal funds have previously covered 90 percent of the program's cost.
That answer could come as a result of testimony from the hearing. Many who attended expressed hope the Health and Human Services Commission will reevaluate the program before the change goes into effect in November.
Planned Parenthood petition
Late Tuesday, Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas filed a petition to ask the entire Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear the State of Texas’s appeal of a preliminary injunction that blocked a rule barring Planned Parenthood from participating in the Women’s Health Program.
On Aug. 21, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit reversed the district court’s preliminary injunction, and found that barring providers with the name “Planned Parenthood” from the Women’s Health Program likely does not violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
In the petition filed Tuesday, Planned Parenthood argues the three-judge panel made exceptional mistakes, in violation of Supreme Court precedent, that warrant closer review by the full court.
Opinions that are derogatory, attack other users or are offensive in nature may be removed. KXAN is not responsible for the content posted in this comment section. We reserve the right to remove any offensive or off-topic remark or thread. To mark a comment for review by a moderator, click "Report Abuse."