Rush's words spur rally at state Capitol

Texas Republicans might lose more than sponsors.

Rush Limbaugh's words are spurring protests against the dwindling state healthcare budget, and by fall, the backlash might swing a few elections.

On four days' notice, Austin musician Marcia Ball drew 200 women to the state Capitol on Tuesday for a protest called "Seeing Red."

Next Tuesday, they plan to be back with reinforcements.

"People feel so powerless right now," said Ball, 62, calling Gov. Rick Perry a "raging hypocrite" and part of what her e-mail called "the Texas Taliban."

Days before Limbaugh's blurted bellicosity, the Texas Women's Health Program was eviscerated when Planned Parenthood clinics were eliminated as providers, costing Texas $40 million in federal dollars and leaving checkups and preventive care uncertain for 130,000 poor Texas women.

That was after the Legislature had cut women's care by $70 million.

And it's not as if Texas spends lavishly on women.

Ball and a friend from Fort Worth, Sharon Mays, were talking about the budget last week, the same day as Limbaugh's tirade.

"We were talking about what an incredible hardship this is for low-income families," Ball said.

"We were going to go to Washington. But the worst problem is right here."

She sent a few friends a single e-mail titled "I'm so mad, I'm SEEING RED."

"What the heck's happening with our poor country?!" she wrote.

"Who knew that in 2012 in the USA we would be fighting about contraception and basic women's health?"

She invited friends to spend three Tuesdays at the Capitol wearing red.

"My vigil is in honor of Molly Ivins," she wrote, referring to the late writer and Star-Telegram columnist who urged readers to take to the streets "banging pots and pans."

Fort Worth singer Delbert McClinton joined Ball at the rally along with several Texas Democrats.

Ball said the message is to "restore the funding for primary healthcare."

"They cut $100 million to $30 million, and then they cut out another 130,000 women," she said.

"I don't believe most Republicans agree with this. I've got Republican neighbors who don't think it's fair, or intelligent."

She said she never expected to outdraw a Tea Party.

"I wish," she said.

"We'll be back next week."

And in November.

Bud Kennedy's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538

Twitter: @budkennedy