It's all bad news, all the time, you say? Well, that's not true on Fridays! Last night, the House of Representatives passed the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill — which, as suggested by its title, provides funding for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education — by a vote of 274-141.
What's that? The last time you heard "Labor-HHS-Education" all in one breath it was in an angry breath, because the Democrats had caved on the proposed increase in abstinence-only funding and the bill included $28 million extra for programs that lie to teens and are totally ineffective?
It turns out that there is something to cheer about this bill after all. In a win for reproductive health care, the appropriations bill includes a $27.8 million funding increase for important Title X family planning dollars, bringing the total funding for Title X to $310.9 million. This is the largest increase in Title X funding in 35 years.
The Senate had already approved the bill on Wednesday. The $606 billion bill now goes to President Bush for his signature. Unsurprisingly, his administration had stated that he would veto the bill, apparently over disagreement about discretionary spending levels.
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Title X is a federally funded program administered by the Office of Family Planning in the Department of Health and Human Services. Title X funds family planning services for approximately five million low-income patients.
Planned Parenthood applauded Congress for the historic increase in Title X funding:
"Increasing funding for Title X has been one of Planned Parenthood's top priorities under our Prevention First agenda. Planned Parenthood worked with pro-family planning champions in Congress to secure this additional funding, and we are pleased that it passed," said Cecile Richard, president of Planned Parenthood. "Every dollar invested in family planning and preventive care helps women and couples prevent unintended pregnancy and plan strong, healthy families."
Planned Parenthood notes that the $27.8 million increase in funding will provide services for an additional 139,000 women and will help to avert 24,000 unintended pregnancies and 10,000 abortions.