Upon entering the race for the GOP presidential bid, Texas Gov. Rick Perry immediately got walloped for his executive order to have girls vaccinated against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), “the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States” that can lead to cervical cancer. Fending off competitor Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) misguided attacks against the HPV vaccine at a GOP debate last month, Perry defended himself with, “I hate cancer.” “Cervical cancer is caused by HPV. We wanted to bring that to the attention of these ten of thousands of young people in our state,” he said. “At the end of the day, I will always err on the side of saving lives.”
However, Perry’s actions in Texas tell a different story. This summer, he signed a budget into law that eviscerates state support for cervical cancer screenings by gutting family planning funding by nearly 66 percent. The move, he brags, nearly defunds Planned Parenthood — a women’s health organization that “provides four times more cervical cancer screenings every year in Texas than abortions”:
[H]e gets some of his biggest applause in early primary states when he brags of signing a state budget that largely defunds Planned Parenthood — which provides four times more cervical cancer screenings every year in Texas than abortions.
Perry and lawmakers curtailed funding for Planned Parenthood earlier this year by cutting the state’s family planning budget by nearly 66 percent, from $111.5 million last biennium to $37.9 million in the next two years. In Texas, these state-funded family planning services have included birth control, STD testing, breast cancer exams, and pap smears that screen for HPV, the virus that can lead to cervical cancer — but not abortions.
Instead, Perry diverts funding to crisis pregnancy centers, fake abortion clinics “whose predominant function is to counsel women against abortions.” The vast majority of CPCs are not licensed medical clinics and do not provide the same prevention services as Planned Parenthood, including preventative services like pap smears and breast cancer screenings. Even though nearly 180,000 Texas women will likely lose access to services due to family planning cuts, Texas lawmakers upped the funding for these CPCs to $8.3 million instead.
The majority of Planned Parenthood’s services involve contraception, STD testing and treatment, and cancer screening and prevention. Only 3 percent of their services involve abortion procedures, and Planned Parenthood “has legally separated its nonabortion health clinics so it can receive state aid.” That 3 percent of non-taxpayer funded service is enough for Perry to rebuke the whole organization — and jeopardize the health of thousands of Texas women at the same time.