In our June 20 Special Bulletin, we reported on the action of a House subcommittee in eliminating funding for two programs for family planning. One of our readers inquired in a published comment where the “media involvement” was, and two days later The New York Times weighed in with an editorial, “Republicans Take Aim At Poor Women.” Now, The Huffington Post reports that a Senate subcommittee has taken action that is less draconian but similarly misguided:
Now that Republicans control the Senate, women’s health advocates worried that both chambers would conspire to eliminate Title X, which funds 4,100 health clinics nationwide and provides no- or low-cost family planning services to individuals who earn less than about $25,000 a year. But a Senate appropriations subcommittee marked up a bill on Tuesday that instead trims the national family planning program by $28.7 million, to about $258 million a year. The Senate bill also cuts the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, an evidence-based grant program, by $81 million, or 80 percent.
“Politicians in Congress say they’re trying to fix the budget,” Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, told reporters on Tuesday. “The irony is that family planning is good for the American economy. … Access to birth control and family planning is one of the biggest drivers of women’s economic gains, leading to more education and higher wages.”
While House Republicans have not yet succeeded in eliminating Title X, deep budget cuts to the program have already squeezed out 700,000 patients that it otherwise would have served, according to the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association.
In our earlier Special Bulletin we did not pause to explain that the heart of Republican objections apparently lies in the fact that some of the funding would go to Planned Parenthood. While that organization does provide access to abortions, that service cannot by law involve federal funds and it represents only a tiny portion of the Planned Parenthood budget: 3% in 2013. Put another way, Planned Parenthood prevents far more abortions than it provides. In short, whatever one’s view of abortion, attempts to choke off or reduce funding to Planned Parenthood make no sense.
Similarly, the attack on the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative is patently driven by ideological rigidity and/or political pandering. If Congress wishes to spend taxpayer money on abstinence only programs, let it do so, but not at the expense of eviscerating other programs of proven effectiveness.