Planned Parenthood supporters rally in Fort Worth

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on March 10, 2012 at 8:13 PM

Updated Saturday, Mar 10 at 8:13 PM

FORT WORTH — Next week, the State of Texas and the Obama administration are expected to face a legal showdown over the funding of health screenings and exams for thousands of Texas women.

Pressure is growing to keep the program that's caught in a political crossfire.

Dozens braved a steady rain Saturday to protest feared cuts to the women's health program in Texas.

State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) made a very personal plea, telling the crowd that she used services from Planned Parenthood years ago when she was a single teenage mom.

"I, like many poor women, relied on that as my only sole source for health care," she said.

Davis worries that 130,000 women may suddenly lose cancer screenings and contraceptive services because of the battle over funding Planned Parenthood.

Texas wants to stop giving money to the agency because it provides abortions.

But the federal government has warned it will yank $35 million in funding to Texas if that happens, money that pays for exams and screenings — not just by Planned Parenthood, but other clinics across the state.

"The consquences of tha is being vastly underestimatd by the Republican administration," Sen. Davis said.

Republicans insist that abortion providers should not get taxpayer money. This week, Gov. Rick Perry pledged that the state will pick up the costs if the federal funds are cut.

"This program is not going away," he said. "People out there trying to say, 'Oh, they're going to kill this program,' are dead wrong."

But Perry is vague on how the state would pay for the women's health program. The Texas budget was already deeply slashed because of the severe state revenue shortfalls.

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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