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Perry Targets "Pro-Abortion Radicals" in CPAC Speech

Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune
Gov. Rick Perry with wife Anita at Williamson County Republican dinner in Round Rock, his first public speech since leaving the presidential race.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry targeted what he called “left-wing, pro-abortion radicals” in a speech before the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, blaming the Obama Administration for the state’s stand-off over the Medicaid Women’s Health Program.

“President Obama has invalidated a waiver that provides health care for more than 100,000 women in my state,” he said, simply because Texas doesn’t want to “subsidize abortion.”

The Women’s Health Program is a joint state-federal program that provides well-woman exams, contraception and STD screenings — not abortions — for thousands of poor women in Texas. The majority of them have traditionally occurred at Planned Parenthood clinics.

This year, in an ongoing effort to force Planned Parenthood out of business in Texas, Republican officials asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for a waiver — to continue the program but exclude Planned Parenthood from it.

The feds declined, saying Texas’ effort was a violation of the federal Social Security Act, and asked the state to reconsider. They granted Texas a renewal of the program through March to work out an agreement, which has yet to develop. 

On Thursday, Perry laid the blame for the hold up squarely on Obama.

But Perry's opponents say Texas Republicans are the ones to blame if the state refuses to abide by the Social Security Act, thus ending a program that helps many poor women.

In December, Cindy Mann, director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, said the state can’t restrict access to a “qualified health provider simply because they provide other services Medicaid doesn’t pay for” — i.e. abortions. 

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