I couldn't believe it when I read the news in The Washington Post. I mean, I shouldn't be surprised, but it still seems outrageous—even for this administration. Of course, this is the same administration who demonstrated that "W Stands for Women" by eliminating the White House Office of Women's Initiatives and Outreach (where I am almost embarrassed to admit that I interned, shortly after the scandal with that other White House intern) in its first day of office (which was also my birthday, by the way). Not that I hold a grudge … ok, back to the point.
According to insiders, the Office of Women's Health has had a quarter of its operating budget taken away by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And apparently they've already allocated or used what's left—so essentially they have no money to run programs and would have to halt operations for the rest of the year.
Word on the street (or the web) is that this may be payback for the role that the Office of Women's Health played in the debate over Plan B's approval for over-the-counter access. Don't you just love the taste of political retribution in the morning?
NARAL Pro-Choice America's Presdient Nancy Keenan said in a statement:
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"For more than three years, political appointees at the FDA disregarded sound science and medical expertise by blocking over-the-counter access for emergency contraception," said Keenan. "Now, after commonsense and public health finally prevailed, we learn that the Office of Women's Health is on the chopping block. Reportedly, more than one-quarter of its $4 million operating budget is slated to be cut. This development begs a question for the Bush administration, 'Why is women's health 25 percent less important this year than last?'"
"The Office of Women's Health should not be undermined simply because the president's far-right base opposes sound decision-making. There is no room for this kind of divisive attack on women's reproductive health, and a funding cut will only interfere with the agency's ability to do what's right," Keenan said.
Let's hope this is not the first step in a disappearing act for the Office of Women's Health.