Republicans are looking to wipe out funding for Title X, a 40-year-old family planning program.
The lede in a Politico story posted late Wednesday afternoon, "GOP targets family planning program." The new continuing resolution proposed by House Republicans would eliminate ALL current year funding for Title X family planning programs in the United States — a move that would devastate the nation's health care infrastructure and (conveniently for GOP ideologues) cripple Planned Parenthood clinics throughout the country.
With current funding for the federal government set to expire on March 4, we know there will be a showdown over the terms of passing a new continuing resolution.
We know that Planned Parenthood was in the crosshairs, as a bill introduced by Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) would make any organization that provides abortion services ineligible for Title X family planning funding.
But we didn't expect these issues to converge — so suddenly and so soon — with women and young people all across the country expected to pay the price.
The cut would be a hard hit against Planned Parenthood, which received $16.9 million of Title X funding in 2009. By law, the funds must be spent on health care such as contraceptives, pelvic exams, and safer-sex counseling, and cannot be spent on abortion services.
The cuts are part of the continuing resolution, a Republican spending proposal released Wednesday.
Started in 1970 by President Richard Nixon, Title X is the only source of federal funds dedicated solely to family planning and reproductive health. Some 5 million women and men received services through 4,500 community-based clinics in 2008, according to the Department of Health & Human Services.
The House could vote as early as next week to pass a new continuing resolution that would eliminate all Title X Family Planning funding. These cuts hardly even masquerade as a serious attempt at deficit reduction. On the other hand, these cuts reinforce the apparent top priority of House Republicans: using any and all opportunities to deny Americans access to health care.
This is the first undisguised admission that their ultimate goal — out in plain sight for all to see — is to eliminate the ability of all 309,000,000 Americans to access family planning services, including reproductive health care and birth control.
IF THIS WAS REALLY ABOUT THE DEFICIT:
For a budget deficit of $1.5 trillion, this $327 million cut amounts to 0.0218% The amount that directly funds Planned Parenthood comes out to a 0.001127% cut.
Not to mention that every $1 invested in Title X Family Planning saves $3.80 in later spending, mostly through Medicaid. In fact, the GOP proposal to cut $327 million in family planning dollars equates to a future increase of $1.25 BILLION for U.S. taxpayers. (Then again this analysis only comes from the Guttmacher Institute. In a world where CBO estimates are suddenly "opinion," budget analysis — no matter how reputable — no longer matters.)
IF THIS WAS REALLY ABOUT PLANNED PARENTHOOD:
The amount that directly funds Planned Parenthood comes out to a 0.001127 percent cut. Plus, Rep. Mike Pence has already introduced legislation that would effectively defund Planned Parenthood by restricting Title X family planning funds to organizations that do not provide abortion services.
IF THIS WAS REALLY ABOUT ABORTION
$0. That's how much of the $327 million Title X Family Planning funds is currently used to pay for abortion-related services. Even looking at the services offered by Planned Parenthood — an organization that does provide abortion care, but does not use ANY federal funds to do so — it's clear that "family planning" provides many basic health care and preventative measures.
Source: Planned Parenthood 2008-9 annual report
Graphic via Jed Lewison's piece on the current video attacks against Planned Parenthood
Ninety-seven percent of Planned Parenthood's services have nothing to do with abortion - and in fact many are dedicated to ensuring that women (and couples) have the information and health care they need to prevent unintended pregnancy in the first place. It is staggering that the Republican party — so publicly and vocally dedicated to "ending abortion" — is so militantly opposed to all that makes abortion less necessary.
Somehow, that isn't good enough for Republicans in the House. Instead, they are demanding that 5,000,000 people no longer have access to cancer screening. They don't deserve STD testing and treatment. They must not have access to contraception. We must not provide women's health services.
HOSTAGE-TAKING IS THEIR ONLY STRATEGY
While Democrats have a shaky-at-best recent history on abortion rights, the fact remains that a Democratic Senate and President Obama in the White House will likely provide an effective firewall against direct legislative attacks on reproductive rights and women's health. As such, Rep. Pence's bill to exclude Planned Parenthood from Title X eligibility would likely founder in the Senate. (Not that we shouldn't be fighting at every opportunity to shore up Senate opposition to these measures and to ensure that Obama realizes that abortion rights are not a political bargaining chip to be traded away in his search for "bipartisanship.")
Which is exactly why the continuing resolution is such a dangerous - and dangerously effective — strategy. Along with the need to raise the debt ceiling, the need for a new continuing resolution to keep the federal government open and operating offers the GOP their best chance to hold the country hostage while they impose radical policies on the American people.
They're betting that President Obama and the Democratis Party are willing to sacrifice Title X funding (along with many other cuts to critical programs) in order to avoid shutting down the federal government when the continuing resolution expires. More specifically, they're betting that Democrats will be terrified of being blamed for a shutdown — even though it was the Republicans who held the nation hostage.
PICK UP THE PHONE - DIAL (202) 224-3121
That's the number for the House switchboard. Call it. Now.
If your representative is a Republican, they need to know that they are expected to deliver on job creation and economic issues — and that their constituents will not stand for ideological attacks to deny people access to family planning.
If your representative is a Democrat, tell them you expect them to stand up to GOP threats and to protect Title X funding. Make sure they know that caving is NOT an option.
Elected on promises of job creation and fiscal responsibility, House Republicans have instead used every opportunity to launch an all-out War on Women and use budget cutting as an excuse to gut programs that help our most vulnerable citizens. Once again the GOP's deficit hysteria has proven to be a cover for a radical social agenda - rather than any serious attempt at governing or fiscal responsibility.