The House Appropriations Labor-HHS Subcommittee released a budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2016 on Tuesday that zeroes out funding for the Title X family planning program, the only federal grant program that provides contraceptive and other preventive health services to poor and uninsured individuals who would otherwise lack access to that kind of care. The program subsidizes 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. The largest demographic the program serves is reproductive-aged women between 20 and 29 years old.
In the wake of the Republican gains in the 2010 midterms, House GOP lawmakers quickly prioritized the elimination of all Title X funding. Not surprisingly, the efforts faced massive Democratic resistance.
But now that Republicans control both the House and Senate, far-right members are pursuing their goal with renewed vigor. Laura Bassett reported yesterday for the Huffington Post:
Those who said the so-called "Republican war on women" is over may want to re-think their thesis.
ThinkProgress' Tara Culp-Ressler added, "According to research from the Guttmacher Institute, about 20 million women in the United States need access to publicly funded contraception, and Title X clinics have historically only been able to meet about a third of that need. The situation has been getting even worse in recent years. After the most recent economic recession, more Americans slipped into poverty and Title X's patient load increased -- but its budget didn't."
By most responsible measures, Title X deserves additional resources, not a 100% budget cut.
We've come a long way -- which is to say, Republicans have changed quite a bit -- since 1970, when Nixon signed Title X into law, saying, "It is my view that no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition."
Planned Parenthood Action Fund explained in a press statement that the current Title X program -- which covers nearly 4.6 million Americans -- includes resources that cover family planning services, well-woman exams, lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, and testing and treatments for sexually transmitted infections.
Scrap the program's funding and this health care coverage simply goes away.
Disclosure: My wife works for Planned Parenthood, but played no role in this piece.