Thousands search for doctors after Texas Planned Parenthood ban upheld

(CBS News) A battle over health care in Texas is drawing national attention. Texas has banned Planned Parenthood from a health care program for poor women. A judge sided with the state on Friday.

College student Emily Howell depended on her local Planned Parenthood clinic. Now, she and nearly 50,000 other Texas women will have to find a new place to get free breast cancer screenings, pap smears and birth control.

"It feels scary not knowing where I'm going to go, and also knowing that I'm not going to be able to go where I've felt comfortable going for 10 years," Howell says.

Texas legislators cut Planned Parenthood out of the state's women's health program by banning participation of groups that support abortion rights.

"I feel like they send the message to women that they don't care about them," she says.

"It makes me really angry," she adds.

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Critics say there aren't enough doctors and clinics to treat all the Planned Parenthood patients.

Governor Rick Perry defended the state's actions when CBS News spoke to him last spring.

"We've got providers that are out there that we trust are not going to be involved in the delivery of abortion services," Perry said.

He said that he believed that other providers will be able to take over Planned Parenthood's patients.

"I'm not in the game of 'what-if's,'" he said. "There are the providers there to take care of this, and the funding is there as well."

Texas' revamped program began this January, with a website designed to help women choose from participating doctors or clinics. When CBS News randomly selected 25 in the Austin area and called, they found just four were participating in the program. Fifteen didn't offer women's health services at all.

A spokesperson for the agency that runs the program admitted they "are having more issues than we anticipated with (the) website."

"I feel like all of the women that are being affected by these choices are being used in a political game," Howell says.

Planned Parenthood has filed suit in both state and federal courts, but Howell won't be able to wait for a resolution. She says she has no choice but to find another doctor.

  • Anna Werner

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