FORT WORTH — Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been trying to cut funding to Planned Parenthood through the Women's Health Program, which is used by thousands of low-income women.
Perry has said he doesn't want taxpayer funds going to Planned Parenthood because of its link to abortion providers. Federal officials have said that interferes with a woman's right to choose her own doctor.
Perry said he feels certain that his new Women's Health Program — which relies solely on state funding — can meet the needs of poor women.
"We've not only created a program that respects Texas women, no taxpayer money will be used for abortion providers or their affiliates," Perry said.
On Wednesday, state health officials said they needed more time to make sure enough doctors are signed up for the new program that will exclude clinics with ties to abortion providers.
The move brought relief to many patients, including 26-year-old Jackie Grandell, who uses Planned Parenthood for annual well woman checkups.
She has no insurance other than the Women's Health Program. Grandell is angry that Gov. Perry is threatening to take away this safety net.
"I've never had an abortion... never wanted to," she said. "But I still need health care."
About half the women in the state's Women's Health Program use Planned Parenthood.
Patients who are bracing for a possible end to state funding tell Planned Parenthood workers they will be in trouble if that happens.
"They've called all over town trying to find somebody who accepts the Women's Health Program, Medicaid," said nurse practitioner Denise Conner, "And none of the providers... none of the doctors in town will accept it. And that's what so frustrating — we're one of the very few who will take it."
Planned Parenthood is suing the state to stay in the program, and insure women can chose their own provider. Another hearing is set for November 8.
Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas CEO Ken Lambrecht says regardless of what the courts decide, Planned Parenthood will not turn women away.
"We will find a way," he pledged. "We will continue fighting for the health and safety of women in Texas, and we'll be here for another 75 years."
Jackie Grandell said she has put off dental work, because she doesn't have insurance for her teeth.
She gives thanks that — for now — she doesn't have to do the same when it comes to her body.
Planned Parenthood will not lose federal funding in Texas, for now.