Late last week, as part of a plan to reduce the federal deficit, Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to end federal funding to Title X, a 40-year-old federal grant program that provides aid to low-income Americans for family planning and reproductive health (but does not directly fund abortions). It cost about $317 million in 2010.
As part of that bill, Representative Mike Pence, a Republican from Indiana and longtime foe of abortion, had introduced an amendment banning Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funding at all, thus putting into jeopardy its approximately $75 million share of the Title X funding. Because federal funding of abortions is already disallowed by law, this funding ban would mean that Planned Parenthood could no longer receive any federal funding, including Medicaid, to provide affordable cancer screenings, HIV testing, STI/STD testing and treatment, or birth control.
The cuts passed with a vote of 240 to 185 (mostly along party lines) and will now proceed to the Senate as part of the Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government through September.
While anti-abortion rights activists celebrated what they deemed an “historic vote,” Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said, "In attacking Planned Parenthood, the House Republican leadership has launched an outrageous assault on the millions of Americans who rely on Planned Parenthood for primary and preventive health care, including lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screenings, annual exams, family planning visits, birth control, HIV testing, and more.”
Wondering why so many people feel that federal funding for Title X and Planned Parenthood is important? Here’s a quick look at the Planned Parenthood by the numbers:
- Of all Planned Parenthood health services, 35 percent are contraceptive services, another 35 percent are STI/STD testing and treatment, and 16 percent are cancer screening and prevention (including Pap tests, HPV vaccinations, and breast exams), while abortion services account for just 3 percent (another 11 percent include other women’s health services like pregnancy tests and prenatal visits as well as primary health care for women and men and adoption referrals to other agencies)
- Planned Parenthood provides sexual and reproductive health care and education to over 5 million women, men, and adolescents every year—and of those, approximately 3 million are in the U.S.
- Planned Parenthood estimates that its contraceptive services help to avert 612,000 unintended pregnancies and 291,000 abortions each year
- Eighty-three percent of Planned Parenthood health care clients receive services to prevent unintended pregnancy
- Almost 80 percent of Planned Parenthood health care clients are age 20 and older
- Seventy-five percent of Planned Parenthood health care clients have incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level
- Twelve percent of Planned Parenthood health care clients receive abortion services
What do you hope will happen when the Senate votes on these cuts? Is maintaining affordable access to sexual and reproductive health care of utmost importance, or is that worth sacrificing in order to close the doors of Planned Parenthood in an effort to curb abortions?