Demonstrators in Dallas and Fort Worth took to the streets Friday in support of eliminating federal funding for Planned Parenthood and in opposition to rules that allow government spending on contraception.
Several hundred people gathered outside Dallas City Hall at noon to join the Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally.
Organizers reported more than 700 people at a similar noontime rally outside the Fort Worth Federal Building.
The Dallas demonstrators said birth control and abortion violate their religious beliefs and the rights of the unborn.
“We cannot have the government to allow that, to use our money to pay for the killing of innocent people,” said demonstrator Martha Valdivia.
Speakers and protesters said federal funding for birth control amounts to a violation of the constitutional separation between church and state.
“If there’s going to be separation of church and state, that means the government cannot cross the barrier and invade the province of the church,” said Hiram Sasser, of Plano-based Liberty Institute.
Many protesters said they oppose any government funding for women’s health services at Planned Parenthood because it is also an abortion provider.
“They make their money from abortions. That is how Planned Parenthood makes their money, so this whole woman’s health care issue, there are so many places out there that offer free women’s health,” demonstrator Lorianne Meiwes said.
Texas lost federal money for the Medicaid Women's Health Program when it started to enforce a law passed last year that bars state funding from clinics affiliated with abortion providers.
The Obama administration said it had to stop funding the program because federal law requires women to be able to choose any qualified clinic.
Planned Parenthood treated about 40 percent of the Women's Health Program patients. The program serves women ages 18-44 who earn less than $20,000 per year or less than $41,000 for a family of four.
The federal funding covered about 90 percent of the program's $40 million cost.
Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison on Friday asked the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to find a way to restore the funding.
Hutchison said she still opposes abortion but wants the services restored, even if Planned Parenthood is a provider.
“I do think the governor needs to sit down with the federal government and work it out so that we can have our share,” Hutchison told MSNBC Thursday.