Given declines in teen pregnancy rates, you'd think that the government would be more motivated than ever to keep a positive trend going strong. But today, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies went against that logic, proposing a bill that would cut the the Title X Family Planning program. This would mean no more federal funding for family planning services, lifesaving exams (including cancer screenings), birth control, and STD testing. It would also markedly kill the majority of such funding for teen pregnancy prevention and sex education programs.
"It is...outrageous that Congress would gut the nation's teen pregnancy prevention and sex education programs, just as we're making historic progress in reducing teen pregnancy," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, in a released statement.
About 4.6 million people would be affected by the cuts, according the Planned Parenthood. The bill is clearly misguided, especially considering that family planning programs make a whole lot of economic sense. The Guttmacher Institute reports that for every $1 invested in publicly funded family planning services, $7 is saved in public expenditures.
Richards notes that low-income women would feel the cuts the most. "Cutting the Title X Family Planning program could leave nearly 4.6 million people without care, including women in rural communities and low-income women who rely on Planned Parenthood and other providers for high-quality, affordable care," she said. Emily Crockett at RH Reality Check echoes a similar concern, writing, "Title X grants serve a highly vulnerable population that is 90 percent women, half Black or Latino, and mostly uninsured or young." As one House Democratic aide told her, the bill is "a giant finger in the eye of women's rights, and is specifically designed to be so."
During a hearing Wednesday morning, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) said, "Defunding family planning is not only a threat to women's health, it is bad science and bad public policy. Ninety-percent of Title X clients have incomes that are 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level."
"Once again we're talking about the government, members of Congress, intruding on women's right to reproductive healthcare," said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA). "First we want to put our views, some views, as it relates to abortion. Then, family planning. What are women supposed to do? What do you want? Women need to be able to decide whether or not they want family planning, birth control, or if they so desire, an abortion. But yet members of Congress keep trying to insert their will on all of these issues. I tell you, it's time for us to get out of the lives of women's private decisions."
Watch the full hearing below:
Photos: Getty Images
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