The Republican Majority for Choice (RMC) reports that a subcommittee of the House of Representatives has voted to eliminate funding for programs for family planning and teenage pregnancy prevention. We join RMC in believing that this is a serious mistake and have set forth below the full statement by the RMC.
The program for family planning under Title X is a long-standing one, having been enacted in 1970 under President Richard Nixon. As described by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the program operates through family planning centers:
Family planning centers offer a broad range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods and related counseling; as well as breast and cervical cancer screening; pregnancy testing and counseling; screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs); HIV testing; and other patient education and referrals.
The Teenage Pregnancy Program is also targeted for elimination. The program “supports competitive grants to public and private entities to fund medically accurate and age-appropriate programs that reduce teen pregnancy and the federal costs associated with administration and evaluation. The House subcommittee proposes to substitute an “abstinence only” program. The effectiveness of the latter, however, is highly questionable at best. For example, a 2007 evaluation of such programs by HHS under the Bush administration concluded “[Y]outh who were assigned to the Title V abstinence education “program group” were no more likely than youth who were assigned to the “services as usual” control group to have abstained from sex. Those who reported having sex had similar numbers of sexual partners and had initiated sex at the same mean age.”
As shown by the RMC, the proposed budget makes no sense as a matter of fiscal policy. Thus, while the proposal is cloaked in language of economics, it bears the distinct aroma of pecksniffery. Indeed, it seems that there are some in our party who would like to recast it as The Abstinence Party. In our view, however, that would be not only bad policy but bad politics. For further data and analysis, we turn to our friends at the RMC—which, we emphasize, is the Republican Majority for Choice:
Republican Majority for Choice Statement on House Committee Proposed Budget
by GOP Choice
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Mallory Schwarz
WASHINGTON, DC (June 18, 2015) –Yesterday the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Subcommittee approved a fiscal year 2016 spending proposal that contains misguided and fiscally irresponsible measures including cuts to family planning initiatives that save billions in long term spending. Republican Majority for Choice urges House Republicans to put facts before ideological grandstanding and reject this proposal.
This FY2016 spending proposal entirely eliminates both the Title X Family Planning Program and the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) and creates a new abstinence until marriage program deceptively called “sexual risk avoidance.
“The Republicans pushing these cuts need to remember they are members of Congress whose job is to put our nation’s fiscal house in order,” said RMC National Co-Chair Candace Straight. “Title X is the only federally funded family planning program and it prevents 1.1 million unintended pregnancies a year, saving Americans nearly $7 billion each year in related costs. Title X prevents nearly 400,000 abortions each year. These ideologues are leading us down the wrong path toward increases in teen pregnancy, unintended pregnancy and abortion. This is about as UN-Republican as it gets!”
RMC applauded the recent efforts to make contraceptives available over-the-counter, but that measure is not a replacement for Title X. OTC contraception will provide easier access for many women, but the GOP must not ignore the fact that the greatest barrier for low-income women is the high cost of the most effective forms of birth control. The socially and fiscally responsible option is to ensure access to proven effective preventive care regardless of income level – and that is what Title X does.
“Why do Congressional leaders continue to ignore the facts?” asked RMC National Co-Chair Susan Bevan. “Available contraception and age-appropriate sex education delay sexual activity among teens and prevent unintended and teen pregnancy. Half of all births in the U.S. are paid for by Medicaid. With many of these pregnancies being unintended, the socially and fiscally responsible thing to do is broaden education for teens and access to contraceptives for all women. If the GOP-led Congress wants to be the guard of taxpayers dollars they can’t ignore the numbers; publicly-funded contraceptives costs $239, but one Medicaid-covered birth costs $12,770— nearly fifty times more.”
RMC’s main priority is protecting critical family planning funding. It is time for real Republicans to put facts before moral grandstanding. Pregnancy prevention programs are exactly the kind of fiscally conservative, family-first policies that Republicans should take the lead on. We encourage members of the House and Senate to protect these cost-effective preventive health programs.