Last week the conservative majority of a U.S. House subcommittee voted to completely eliminate the federal Title X Family Planning Program, cutting nearly $300 million in funding. They also voted to cut $85 million from the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program and increase funding for abstinence-only education by $15 million.
Seems kind of crazy, right? Unfortunately, it’s been crazy times for women’s health care and reproductive rights in this country for a couple of years now. And the lunacy continues.
We’ve got people saying low-income women shouldn’t have access to birth control and people arguing that preventive care for women shouldn’t be covered by insurance. These are the same folks fighting against birth control coverage in the Affordable Care Act.
The recent subcommittee vote is merely political posturing since the Senate is sure to reject the proposed funding cuts. The vote to cut all funding for family planning is another in a long line of actions designed to… well, I’m not quite sure what they’re designed to do but I have a hunch.
I’ve made a list of what I think these conservative legislators may be trying to achieve with their actions. Let me know what you think.
1.) They want fewer women, men, and teens having access to birth control and preventive health care. Nationally, Title X funds a network of 4,400 health centers service more than 5 million women and men each year. In Maine, Title X funding supports family planning services at 44 health centers that serve nearly 30,000 women, men, and teens.
2.) They want to increase the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions in the United States. According to The National Campaign, Title X-funded clinics in 2008 helped avert 973,000 unintended pregnancies which would have resulted in 433,000 unplanned births and 406,000 abortions. In Maine, Title X services helped avert 5,600 pregnancies which would have resulted in 2,500 births and 2,300 abortions.
3.) They want to increase the number of teen pregnancies in the U.S. Teen pregnancy rates have decreased 42% in the U.S. since their peak in 1990; this is largely because of improved use of birth control by teens. Maine has gone from having one of the nation’s highest teen pregnancy rates to the third lowest — a remarkable improvement.
4.) They want women to have more children, with less time in between births, making babies, mothers, and families less healthy. The CDC recognizes family planning as one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century.
5.) They want women to have more unintended births, effectively keeping us from pursuing education and career goals and making us more reliant on public benefits like Medicaid. In Maine, an unintended pregnancy and birth is twice as likely to be covered by Medicaid as a pregnancy that was planned.
6.) They want women and teen girls to have fewer life choices and less economic power.
You can see where this is going, right? It’s like the 1950’s all over again.
I wish it was just my imagination that takes me from number one to number six on this list, but I don’t think so. We are seeing an unprecedented assault on women’s reproductive rights and I believe it’s an attempt to take us back to a time when women had few choices and little power.
Where do your elected representatives and their challengers stand on these critical issues? Have you asked them?