August 4, 2015 — "It's baffling" and "moronic" that conservative lawmakers in the House "are trying to eliminate" the Title X federally funded family planning program, Nicholas Kristof writes in a New York Times opinion piece.
According to Kristof, defunding the program would result in "more pregnancies, more abortions, more AIDS, more sexually transmitted infections and more women dying of cervical and breast cancer." Further, he notes that "[e]nding the program would impoverish young mothers."
Kristof explains, "Today, 4,100 clinics supported by Title X provide family planning and also often test for HIV, cure sexually transmitted infections and screen for cervical and breast cancer." He illustrates the effects of eliminating Title X funding by detailing two women's experiences at a Title X clinic in Baltimore. One instance involves a 16-year-old patient who received STI treatment and condoms, while another involves a patient who was diagnosed and treated for "possible cervical cancer" following a pelvic exam.
Nonetheless, Kristof notes that "inflation-adjusted spending on Title X family planning has fallen by two-thirds" since 1980, and "[n]ow the House proposes eliminating it altogether, while the Senate proposes a 10 percent cut."
Citing the Guttmacher Institute, Kristof writes, "Title X family planning centers prevent about one million unintended pregnancies a year ... avert some 53,000 cases of chlamydia and 8,800 cases of gonorrhea, and save the lives of 1,100 women who would otherwise die of cervical cancer." Further, Kristof writes that "[f]amily planning investments also offer hedge fund-like returns," noting that "a condom or IUD can avert more than $12,000 in average Medicaid spending on a childbirth" and citing Guttmacher calculations that find "every $1 invested in public family planning services saves $7 in public expenditures." Kristof states, "This is a program that saves money as well as lives."
Kristof questions people who oppose Title X funding, writing, "Do you really want to increase the odds that kids ... will get pregnant, will spread disease, will become impoverished single mothers, will get mired in a cycle of poverty, will get abortions -- or will die of breast or cervical cancer -- and do you really think this is moral behavior to be proud of?" (Kristof, New York Times, 8/1).