President Obama's 2010 budget, released today, contains tremendously important steps for the health and well-being of women and young people that take us out of the darkness of the past eight years and move us into the light.
The budget eliminates funding for abstinence-only programs, provides funding for proven teen pregnancy prevention programs, allows states to expand eligibility for Medicaid family planning services, and increases funding for international family planning and reproductive health care by $46 million. While we are disappointed that unfair government restrictions on funding abortion for poor women continue (Hyde Amendment), these budget measures are hopeful signs of better days to come for all the nation's women and youth.
President Obama is proposing to increase funding for the Title X family planning program to $317 million. This is a very modest increase of $10 million, which is troubling considering the president's focus on preventing unintended pregnancy and reducing the need for abortion. The Title X program has effectively addressed these issues for nearly 40 years yet is seriously under funded.
President Obama proposes to spend $110 million ($99 million from the old Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) program with an added allocation of $11 million) under a new rubric of teen pregnancy prevention programs. Although the budget fails to include comprehensive sex education, the hope is that such programs will be found eligible for these funds.
The Adolescent Family Life program will be funded at $13 million, the same level as in FY09. The abstinence-only language has been rewritten to allow funding for programs that have been proven through rigorous evaluation to delay sexual activity, increase contraceptive use (without increasing sexual activity), or reduce teenage pregnancy.
As the budget goes through the congressional appropriations process, RCRC will work to ensure that the beliefs of diverse faith traditions are respected and universal access to reproductive health care - including for poor and vulnerable populations - is furthered.