Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s Facebook page was dripping with sarcasm this morning as hundreds of people flooded the page with mocking and often graphic questions about their women’s health issues.
From menstruation to menopause, women and men from around the country filled the page with questions for “Doctor Perry” in protest against Texas’ decision to cut Planned Parenthood out of the state’s Medicaid Women’s Health program.
“I know you want to be involved in my reproductive health, so I thought I’d let you know my period started a little early this month. Do you think that’s okay?” one woman asked.
“Rick since you know my body better than I do can you please reply to my emails and telephone calls regarding my ever so troubling menstrual flows?” another woman posted. “I’ve been gushing like a stuck pig and I can’t decide what to do about it. It’s getting pretty messy here and I need your help. What do I do? You know best as your medical experience and knowledge is second to none, so please do advise what to do soon.”
The “sarcasm bomb” as one website called it was likely in retaliation to Texas stripping Medicaid funds from health care clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, that are affiliated with abortion providers.
In response to Texas’ law, which took effect last Wednesday, the Obama administration eliminated federal funding for the state’s Medicaid Women’s Health Program, which provides things like cancer screenings, HIV testing and birth control to about 130,000 Texas women who earn less than $20,000 per year.
The administration claims the state was violating the Medicaid program’s rules that allow patients to choose their health care provider. Perry has vowed to keep the program up and running by replacing the more than $30 million in federal funds with state money.
Perry spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said the individuals involved in the Facebook protest “are basing their opinions on something other than the facts” since “Gov. Perry is proud of his efforts to keep this program going with or without the federal government.”
“The comments you are referring to are not just sarcastic, they are inappropriate and do nothing to advance the important discussion about issues surrounding the Women’s Health Program,” Frazier said in an email.
Similarly sarcastic Facebook attacks have been launched against Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Virginia Rep. Ryan McDougle, both Republicans, over their policies to limit abortion access. Brownback supported a bill that would raise taxes on women seeking abortions.
“Hey Governor Brownback, I was just wondering if you could help me decide what brand of tampons to buy,” one woman wrote on his Facebook page. “I’m sure you’re very busy and I’m sorry to bother you. It’s just that as a woman, I just don’t feel comfortable making these important decisions without input from a male politician.”
McDougle got the same treatment.
“I just wanted to let you know, since you’re so concerned about women’s health, that my period started today!” a woman posted on his Facebook page.
McDougle sponsored a bill requiring women seeking an abortion to first have an invasive ultrasound to determine the fetus’ gestational age.
The Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signed a toned-down version of McDougle’s ultrasound bill earlier this month, which now requires women to have a conventional ultrasound before receiving an abortion.
Sarah Wheat, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region, said the now de-funded organization was not involved in the Facebook protests, but that the group has seen an enormous amount of support.
“I just think we are at that enough is enough point,” Wheat said. “The agenda is so extreme and the impact so extraordinary that it is really galvanizing and mobilizing Texans in a way that we haven’t seen to this extent before.”
The most recent cuts to Planned Parenthood, which Wheat said provides care to 40 percent of the women enrolled in Texas’ Medicaid women’s health program, come on the heels of $73 million in across-the-board cuts to the state’s women’s health programs that went into effect in September.
As a result of those cuts, the group closed 12 health clinics. More closures are now planned because of the most recent funding cuts, Wheat said.
Between 150 and 300 outraged women and Democratic lawmakers have protested the Medicaid cuts outside the Texas Capitol every Tuesday for the past month.
“It was just the tipping point for me,” said Austin-based musician Marcia Ball, who organized the three “Seeing Red” protests. “I got fed up. The most recent ruling… was just such an egregious slap in the face of all the women of Texas, all women, and such a terrible policy decision and so hurtful.”
Ball, who said she was not involved in the Facebook protest, said she supports the the coy online outreach because it “really spotlighted the ridiculousness of what they are doing.”
“1000 people wrote to him!” Ball said. “People are up in arms and they are going to use any voice they can.”