June 24, 2015 — Reproductive rights advocates are urging congressional lawmakers to reject proposed budget cuts to the Title X family planning program, contending that the cuts would restrict contraceptive access and increase the teenage pregnancy rate, CQ News reports.
According to CQ News, roughly 30,000 people as of Tuesday had added their signatures to a petition urging congressional lawmakers to reject any proposed funding cuts for the family planning program. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood earlier this week rolled out an online campaign that urges women to share how they have benefited from contraception.
Details on Proposed Senate, House Budgets
The House and Senate budget proposals would decrease or terminate funding for Title X, according to CQ News. The program, which mostly serves low-income people, funds clinics that provide services for family planning and preventive care, as well as testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.
Specifically, the Senate's proposed budget would cut $28.7 million in funding for Title X, reducing overall funding for the program to $257.8 million. According to CQ News, the Senate Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee approved the proposal earlier this week, and the Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to markup the measure on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, a budget proposed by House lawmakers would eliminate all funding for the Title X family planning program. The legislation also would increase funding for abstinence-only education while cutting almost $100 million from sexuality education programs that are part of an initiative designed to help prevent teenage pregnancy.
Advocates Voice Concerns
Planned Parenthood Action Fund and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy said the proposed cuts would increase the number of unintended pregnancies by almost 66%. The advocates attributed the current 40-year low in the teenage pregnancy rate to programs that provide comprehensive sexuality education and facilitate affordable contraceptive access. They also noted that the program serves individuals who would otherwise not receive certain health care services, adding that the Title X program in 2014 provided care for 4.6 million individuals.
Cecile Richards, president of PPAF, said, "Congress is taking an ax to one of the most successful programs in America." She added, "If politicians think they can take away millions from programs that reduce teen pregnancy, they have another thing coming."
National Campaign CEO Sarah Brown added, "The cost of the programs is modest compared to the overall budget, and the payoff is immense." According to advocates, the federal government saves about $7 for every $1 invested in family planning.
Meanwhile, the Office of Management and Budget on Tuesday sent a letter to House appropriators, voicing "serious concerns" about the proposal (Zanona, CQ News, 6/23).