Deficit-peacock Republicans in the House don’t want to make any cuts at all to the budgets of the Pentagon or the Department of Homeland Security, but they’re delighted to completely eliminate funding for a family-planning program that serves low-income Americans. No matter that the move would actually increase long-term costs to taxpayers.
The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday unveiled a list of proposed spending cuts for the remaining seven months of the fiscal year, including zeroing out $327 million in funding for the Title X family-planning program. As Politico explains, “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.”
Republicans rail against the evils of abortion, but, as NARAL’s Nancy Keenan puts it, they “now want to deny funding for birth control, even though that’s the best way to prevent unintended pregnancy.” She calls it “blatant hypocrisy.”
Title X doesn’t just fund contraception, as RH Reality Check explains:
Title X provides millions of women across the country with access to basic primary and preventive care, such as lifesaving cancer screenings, contraception, STI testing and treatment, and annual exams. In fact, six in ten women who access care from a family planning health center consider it to be their main source of health care. In 2009 alone, Title X providers performed 2.2 million Pap tests, 2.3 million breast exams, and over 6 million tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including nearly a million HIV tests.
Jodi Jacobson of RH Reality Check doesn’t mince words:
[T]he House Appropriations Committee wants to ensure that more low-income women experience unintended and untenable pregnancies, and that they are then forced to bring those to term. And along the way, by cutting Title X, Congress will also ensure that more women die of breast and cervical cancer and more people suffer from sexually transmitted infections.
Ultimately the cuts wouldn’t even reduce government spending — they’d increase it: “The simple fact is, family planning programs like Title X save money. For every public dollar invested in family planning, taxpayers save nearly $4,” says Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, citing a study by the Guttmacher Institute [PDF].
Title X funds don’t go to abortions, but some of the money does go to Planned Parenthood clinics to provide other services. In a post entitled “House GOP Declares War on Planned Parenthood,” Nick Baumann of Mother Jones writes, “The cuts are a victory for Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who has led the push for slashing all funding for abortion providers in general and Planned Parenthood specifically.”
Some progressives are calling the jab at Title X “hypocrisy.” But in fact what the Republicans are doing is perfectly consistent with the ultra-conservative agenda of denying women agency and sexual freedom. In just the last month, we’ve seen newly empowered House Republicans try to redefine rape, push to punish employers whose health-care plans cover abortion, and gleefully join in attacks on Planned Parenthood. It’s not scattershot; it’s strategic.
Chances are good that the Title-X-killing provision will be included in the final appropriations bill passed by the House. Then it’s up to the Senate and the White House to decide how hard they’ll fight the provision — even as they’re fighting proposed cuts to the EPA, FDA, NASA, energy efficiency, clean energy, high-speed rail, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, maternal and child health, local police, job training for the unemployed …