Tag Archive: Title X

House Votes to Defund Title X Funding

On February 18, the US House of Representatives voted to terminate Title X funding, which supports clinics and programs that provide contraception and basic gynecological care to low-income women. It was passed with a clause that explicitly targeted Planned Parenthood, a nationwide comprehensive women’s health and education  organization. While this Bill has a long way to go before becoming law, it is still alarming, especially because of what this means for women who access their services, who tend to be young women, women of color, and low-income women.

This is not about abortion procedures, although that is what supporters of the bill are saying. In 1977, the Hyde Amendment went into effect. This law severely changed the effects of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade (which upheld a constitutional right to an abortion up to the beginning of the third trimester) because it outlawed the use of any federal funds for abortion services.  The Hyde Amendment currently allows exceptions for rape, incest, or when medically necessary for the life of the pregnant woman, but for  Medicaid programs as well as other federal programs, such as Indian Health Services or women in the armed forces, abortion for any reason is expressly outlawed.

If federal funds for abortion services have already been restricted, then it becomes unclear what legislators are trying to stop funding- Pap smears, breast exams, yeast infection remedies, contraceptive education, STD and HIV testing and counseling?

House Votes to Eliminate Title X and Planned Parenthood’s Funding

On Friday, February 18, 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment eliminating  the Title X Family Planning Program and Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s (PPFA) 300+ million dollars in federal funding.  According to the Department of Health & Human Resources, Title X was enacted in 1970 in order to provide access to family planning and other health related services including cancer screenings, breast and pelvic exams, contraception services, STD education, counseling, research and testing, prenatal care and counseling, and community outreach.  Title X funding typically supports low-income and young women without health insurance and is a significant resource of funding for PPFA.

In addition to voting against Title X funding, the House also voted to eliminate Medicaid funding for PPFA.  According to Susan Yolen, Vice-President of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, 30% of the patients who visit PPFA use Medicaid.  According to a fact sheet published by PPFA last September, the organization serves over 5 million men and women annually.

Many people view this attack against family planning programs, and specifically against PPFA, as a win for anti-abortion advocates.  Douglas Johnson, legislative director of National Right to Life legislative, stated,  “This landmark vote demonstrates that most House members now recognize Planned Parenthood is a hyper-political, under-regulated, out-of-control mega-marketer of abortion as a method of birth control.   However, Section 1008 of the Title X statute bars the use of federal funding “to promote or encourage abortion as a method of family planning.”  Also, only a small portion of PPFA’s funding is used in abortion-related services.  According to PPFA, abortions are 3% of the total services provided by the organization.

The most significant and devastating effects of these cuts are that  low-income women and men who use organizations like PPFA for general health purposes.   According to PPFA, 60% of women who receive medical care from these organizations use these clinics as their primary source of health care.    New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg stated, “These proposals have nothing to do with being fiscally responsible…Instead, these proposals would have serious consequences for women’s health in New York City and across the nation.  Removing funding for women’s health clinics through these proposals will likely increase the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, increase the number of women with cervical and breast cancers who are not diagnosed until the cancers are in late stages, and increase unintended pregnancies among women.””

Despite the House’s enthusiasm for defunding Title X and PPFA, this amendment will probably fail in the Democratically-controlled Senate.  And even if the amendment somehow made it to President Obama’s desk, he will probably veto the legislation.  Obama has previously supported family services.  For instance, in one of his first acts in office, Obama lifted the Bush era “gag rule.”  Last week, Obama spoke in favor of PPFA and the work they do.  Right now, however, there is real fear that the Republican House and the Democrat Senate will butt heads over this 2012 budget, including these defunding measures, and shut down the government.

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