A republican attack on reproductive rights is nothing new on the federal or state level. Nor is it new for a debate that should focus on comprehensive reproductive health care to be taken over by the soul issue of abortion. With the proposed cutting of all Title X funding ($327 million) through HR.1 and the cutting of all federal funding to Planned Parenthood specifically, the Republican’s obsession with abortion might jeopardize women’s access to quality reproductive health care for all health concerns.
Although title X does not fund abortions, it does provide funding for 4,500 clinics serving 5 million individuals across the country, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Title X funding helps support programs that provide comprehensive family planning services including contraceptive services, safer sex counseling, basic infertility counseling and pelvic and breast exams. Cutting funding for Title X will increase the rate of unwanted pregnancies and will reduce access to HIV and STI testing.
Title X is not the only program benefiting women that faces major cuts in HR.1. An additional $3 billion in proposed cuts would affect the Women Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program and the Head Start education program.
As if these budget cuts are not enough to damage the infrastructure set in place to protect the health of women and children, many states struggle to share their portion of Medicaid funding. The federal government had increased funding to the states for Medicaid, but that funding expires on July 1, 2011. This leaves many state governors unsure of how to continue funding at current levels in the middle of their own budget crises.
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Between proposed elimination of Title X funding and states funding concerns surrounding Medicaid, access to health care for low-income women is at risk. Title X funding provides about 12% of federal money spent on family planning, and Medicaid funding makes up about 71%. In a time where more women need access to subsidized health care, the country is choosing to decrease that funding. Many women rely on clinics funded through Title X and Medicaid for reproductive health care, but also for primary health care. A reduction in funding to such clinics will cost more money in health problems, unintended pregnancies, and STI.
The need to decrease the federal deficit is real, but it must be done using good sense. Funds should not be cut to programs that save money in the long run. Funds should not be cut to programs that serve those who have suffered most during this recession. Most of all, the political circus surrounding abortion should not be used to cut non-controversial funding of reproductive health services supported by the vast majority of citizens.