The first time I heard of Wendy Davis, I was in my sophomore year at SMU. The SMU Women’s and Gender Studies Program sponsored a panel discussion over the cuts to funding for Texas women’s health, and featured Senator Davis, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas President and CEO Ken Lambrecht, and a local Dallas OB-GYN, Dr. Deborah Fuller.
The discussion opened my eyes to the reality of health care access for women in Texas, especially for those who come from less privileged backgrounds than me. I learned that by cutting family planning funding, the Texas Legislature was jeopardizing the health of hundreds of thousands of Texas women. The number of women who will have access to family planning services, which often includes preventive and primary healthcare services such as immunizations and pap smears, has been projected to drop from 203,000 to 65,000 before 2015 because of the Legislature’s actions. Senator Davis, throughout the discussion, was polite, receptive and proved that she was committed to what was best for all Texans, partisan politics aside.
It was this panel that inspired me to begin volunteering with Planned Parenthood, and eventually attend a Lobby Day on behalf of women’s healthcare at the Capitol in Austin. I’ve seen firsthand the enormous impact that Planned Parenthood’s preventive health care services, such as cholesterol screenings and well-woman exams, can have on not just the women who need them, but their entire families and communities. Senator Davis has been a role model for me: she is unapologetic about her passion for protecting women’s access to healthcare because she knows how important it is for our state’s economic growth. It may not be the most glamorous social issue, but it is one that has a drastic impact on Texas’s fiscal health.
If Governor Perry had expanded Medicaid in Texas, more than one million of the most vulnerable, low-income Texans would have gained access to primary, preventive health care. Governor Perry put partisan concerns above the welfare of his own fellow Texans, and now we are paying the price. Wendy Davis has vowed to expand Medicaid, because she understands that health care should not merely be a privilege of the wealthy.
Senator Davis will fight for all Texans, regardless of their income level. She will fight for families, for students, for the LGBT community and for women. That is why I am fighting, by way of voting, for her.