Perry criticized by family-planning friends and foes on Texas funding, HPV policy

Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the lobbying arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), has launched a campaign targeting Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has been pegged by many media outlets as the current leader in the race for the Republican nomination for the 2012 presidential election.

Planned Parenthood’s campaign, titled “Stand Up for Texas Women,” is a response to anti-abortion-rights legislation in Texas and severe cuts to family-planning funding in the state’s 2012 budget.

As The Texas Independent reported, a federal judge recently blocked the majority of a controversial anti-abortion-rights sonogram law requiring women to view and receive descriptions of ultrasound images prior to abortions.

Perry has vowed to appeal the judge’s ruling.

“Tell him to stop,” writes PPFA President Cecile Richards, a native Texan, in a new email newsletter. “Tell Gov. Perry that Texans, and all Americans, need more access to affordable care, not less. Tell him that enough is enough.”

Planned Parenthood supporters are asked to send out an electronic message to Perry, with the heading of the letter to read: “Stop your Attacks on Women’s Health.” Notes are provided for inspiration, such as:

As governor of Texas, Rick Perry has pursued a single-minded agenda: take away women’s health care, destroy Planned Parenthood, and block women’s access to safe abortion care. Now he’s running for president and may push his anti-choice, anti-women’s health agenda on every woman in the country.

Planned Parenthood and the nation’s leading abortion rights advocate NARAL Pro-Choice America have attacked Perry on his anti-abortion-rights record in Texas, but during Wednesday’s GOP presidential debate (VIDEO), Perry was the only one to defend an issue many reproductive-rights advocates support –- policy aimed at preventing sexually transmitted diseases and cervical cancer. Specifically, the governor defended his failed attempt in 2007 to require sixth-grade girls to be given the vaccine to prevent human papillomavirus, or HPV, shortly after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved the vaccine.

Presidential hopefuls Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas) slammed Perry’s HPV policy:

“I’m very concerned about is the issue of parental rights,” Bachmann said. “I think when it comes to dealing with children, it’s the parents who need to make that decision. It is wrong for government, whether it’s state or federal government, to impose on parents what they must do to inoculate their children. This is very serious, and I think that it’s very important, again, that parents have the right.”

“[The HPV vaccine mandate was] not good medicine,” said Paul, a gynecologist. “[It is] not good social policy.” He criticized the fact that Perry had mandated the vaccine by executive order, which was reversed by the Texas Legislature.

Perry’s self-defense:

“I hate cancer. We passed a $3 billion cancer initiative that same legislative session of which we’re trying to find over the next 10 years cures to cancers. Cervical cancer is caused by HPV. We wanted to bring that to the attention of these thousands of — tens of thousands of young people in our state. We allowed for an opt-out. I don’t know what’s more strong for parental rights than having that opt-out. There’s a long list of diseases that cost our state and cost our country. It was on that list. Now, did we handle it right? Should we have talked to the legislature first before we did it? Probably so. But at the end of the day, I will always err on the side of saving lives.”

Thursday morning Slate’s William Saletan slammed Perry for denouncing the health insurance mandates in the Affordable Care Act while defending his own health care mandate.

This can’t go on. Perry can’t continue to denounce mandatory health insurance while defending mandatory vaccinations for a sexually transmitted virus, particularly when his rationale for the vaccine mandate—saving lives and money—mirrors the arguments for the insurance mandate.

Perry has been bashing compulsory health insurance for a long time. … Four years ago, he issued an executive order instructing the Texas health commissioner to “adopt rules that mandate the age appropriate vaccination of all female children for HPV prior to admission to the sixth grade.” Unlike Romney and President Obama, Perry didn’t work out the mandate with his legislature. He imposed it by decree.

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