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GOP Sen. Hutchison defends Planned Parenthood, rips Rick Perry

“I think Planned Parenthood does mammograms, they do so much of the healthcare, the preventative healthcare, and if they’re doing that, then we need to provide those services, absolutely,” Hutchison said on MSNBC. 

Hutchison and Perry were political rivals in 2010, when the senator challenged Perry for the GOP nomination for Texas governor. Perry, the incumbent, trounced Hutchison at the polls.

Federal law states that a woman’s right to choose any healthcare clinic is a prerequisite if the state is to receive Medicaid funding for its Women’s Health Program.

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Last year, the Texas Legislature passed a law that bans state funding for clinics that provide abortion services. Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in the country, though the organization predominantly deals with family planning and women’s health services.

The federal government choked off funding to Texas’s Women's Health Program on Thursday.

“We cannot afford to lose the Medicaid funding for low-income women,” Hutchison said. “We can’t keep turning back federal funds that every state gets and then try to find money in our budget that is already being cut in key areas like education.”

Perry, who ran as a strong anti-federalist during his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, argues that it should be up to the states to decide what providers are included in the program, and it's his position that Planned Parenthood should not receive any public funding.

“I do think that the governor needs to sit down with the federal government and work it out so that we can have our share, our fair share, not more, of money for Medicaid to help low-income women have their healthcare services,” Hutchison said.

— This story was updated at 1:26 p.m.

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