Late last week, the House voted to eliminate Title X program funding, which will block federal funding to Planned Parenthood and other health clinics. There are other amendments on the table as well, such as the Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) sponsored amendment that will simply halt all funding to Planned Parenthood. Pence, who has been waging war on Planned Parenthood for a long time, along with other supporters of the amendment, would like you to believe that this new legislation will help stop abortions — i.e. the legislation may appeal to individuals who are anti-abortion. However, in reality, Title X provides funds for family planning and preventative care, not funds for pregnancy termination, so cutting Title X does nothing but cut family planning funds.

These amendments clearly show that the GOP-controlled House is not on board with women being in charge of when or if they have children. This also shows that our government doesn’t really care about the five million U.S. citizens who annually receive health care via Title X funding. Keep reading to learn more about the Title X issue and to learn how you can help support Planned Parenthood and family planning.

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Who benefits from Title X funds?: 2008 statistics show that approximately five million women and men annually receive health care services from Title X funded clinics, including community-based clinics, state and local health departments, tribal organizations, hospitals, university health centers, independent clinics, community health centers, faith-based organizations, and other public and private nonprofit agencies.

What do Title X funds pay for?: Preventive health services and family planning services such as patient education and counseling; breast and pelvic examinations; breast and cervical cancer screening; sexually transmitted disease (STD) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) prevention education, counseling, testing and referral; and pregnancy diagnosis and counseling, among other things.

Title X funds DO NOT pay for abortions: The Hyde Amendment, enacted in 1977, says that federal funding, i.e. such as Title X funds, may not be used to pay for abortions except for in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. Also, by law,  zero Title X funds are allowed for use in programs where abortion is considered a method of family planning.

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Will cutting Title X funds stop abortions?

Anti-choice supporters seem to believe that cutting Title X funding is an excellent way to stick it to abortion providers. But make no mistake, cutting Title X funding is NOT logistically about stopping abortion, but rather a brutal attack on family planning and other health care issues. Supporters are using Title X to make a public statement about abortion. For example, Rep. Mike Pence, lead sponsor on this amendment, told POLITICO the following:

If Planned Parenthood wants to be involved in providing counseling services and HIV testing, they ought not be in the business of providing abortions. As long as they aspire to do that, I’ll be after them.

Pence is after three million Americans as well. Three million is the number of patients who received Planned Parenthood provided medical care and family planning services last year. Not to mention that one in every five women has received health care from a Planned Parenthood health care center at least once in her life.

It’s dangerous and backward thinking to assume that cutting family planning funds will stop abortion. Getting rid of health care options has NEVER been shown to prevent unwanted pregnancies. In fact, at Politics Daily, writer Sandra Fish points out that, “The Guttmacher Institute which tracks statistics on reproductive health and abortion, predicts the cut in Title X family planning money would mean a one-third increase in unplanned pregnancies — and abortions.” Does it really make sense that less family planning will decrease unplanned pregnancies and abortions? No, it really doesn’t.

Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, notes that cutting federal funds will eliminate health care for, “48% of Planned Parenthood patients — approximately 1.4 million people.” In fact, in 2009 Title X providers performed 2.2 million Pap tests, 2.3 million breast exams, and over six million tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including nearly a million HIV tests. Richards also points out the following…

To be clear, the amendment to prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding does nothing to reduce the deficit and it does nothing to improve the economy. Health professionals will actually lose their jobs as a result, and it takes health care away from American women who cannot afford to pay for it on their own. Those who want to put Planned Parenthood out of business have not explained how the three million Americans currently served by Planned Parenthood’s more than 800 health centers will get the health care they need if this dangerous provision becomes law.

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Cutting Title X funds is a slippery slope:

The government is using Title X funds as a way to punish clinics that provide abortions. But this is a slippery slope. Keep the following in mind:

  • Abortions already cannot be paid for with federal funds so cutting Title X is a moot point.
  • More than 90% of the health care offered at Planned Parenthood centers is preventive.
  • Planned Parenthood is not the only abortion provider in the country. If we allow Planned Parenthood to come under attack we can look forward to other clinics and major hospitals being attacked as well.
  • Attacks on Title X funded clinics undermine women’s access to health care.
  • Without Title X funds, many women and men won’t be able to find affordable health care.
  • Cutting Title X means that unintended pregnancy rates will likely rise.
  • Cutting Title X funds is counterproductive for the economy. As the Salt Lake Tribune points out, “Each dollar spent on family planning services saves almost $4 in Medicaid and other social services costs.

There’s more to this legislation than simply cutting family planning funds. Other damages include punishing employers and insurance providers who provide insurance that includes any abortion access and hospitals and clinics may be forced to turn away women who need abortions to save their own lives. In fact the GOP is even trying to oppose abortion for women who are pregnant due to rape. Right now women get to choose when and how they have children, if we quietly hand over our rights without a fight, who knows where it will all end.

Last week’s decision is far from the final word on the amendment – this issue still requires Senate approval. The resolution is being sent to the Senate for consideration during the week of Feb. 28 and there’s a March 4 deadline. Most people think that it’s almost a sure thing that the Senate will restore funding for family planning services. However the mere fact that this was passed with a  House vote should seriously alarm you. Not only does this situation show that our current House fails to recognize the economic benefits of family planning, but it also shows that women are not valued and that our rights can be taken away with surprising speed. If you want to keep family planning and other health care options legal and well-funded, you can take the following action steps.

+ Learn about Title X family planning program (pdf)

+ Read ‘A guide to GOP proposals to slash family planning’, to learn more about what Republicans are proposing.