Family planning and sex education works. Thanks to sex ed and access to reproductive health care, teen pregnancy is at a 40-year low. It’s no wonder that abortion rates are down, too. But that’s why it’s so maddening to see Republican leaders trying to dismantle all the gains that family planning and sex ed programs have made.
In the GOP budget introduced last week, anti-women’s health politicians in the U.S. House proposed to eradicate the successful, decades-old Title X program, which provides family planning services to millions of low-income women, men, and families per year.
Richard Nixon (yep, Tricky Dick himself) signed the bill that made Title X law in 1970. Since then, the family planning program has been a key component of our nation’s health care safety net, as well as an essential element in reducing unintended pregnancies.
Today, Title X serves nearly 4.6 million low-income people at nearly 4,200 health centers every year. In every state, women and men rely on Title X for basic primary and preventive health care, including well-woman exams, lifesaving cancer screenings, contraception, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In fact, 6 in 10 women who access care from a family planning health center consider it their main source of health care.
So many people depend on Title X for good reason: It has great results.
Through birth control and contraceptive counseling, Title X has helped to prevent 1.1 million unintended pregnancies each year. That’s half of the 2.2 million unintended pregnancies that all public family planning programs help avoid.
Title X has a long-standing record of cost savings. For every public dollar invested in family planning, about $7.09 is saved in Medicaid-related costs.
It’s always been a fight to maintain and expand funding for family planning. In fact, we beat back serious efforts to significantly cripple the Title X program back in 2011. But four years after we stopped Congress, our opponents are at it again.
On June 16, 2015, anti-women’s health politicians introduced a bill that would eliminate the Title X family planning program that millions of people rely on.This bill could force Planned Parenthood health centers to shut down, and that means potentially leaving millions without access to the essential care that Planned Parenthood and other health centers provide every day.
But that’s not all. Just when teen birth and pregnancy rates have hit historic lows, the GOP proposal would also eliminate nearly all federal funding for an important source of evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention and sex education funding.
You thought the bad news was over. We’re just getting started: While slashing funding for sex education programs by over 90 percent, the GOP budget would also double abstinence-only programs.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Sex ed works. Comprehensive sex education programs that are based on things like facts and evidence actually have measurable results for reducing unintended pregnancy and STI rates. Congress is irresponsibly giving millions of dollars to abstinence-only programs, despite the fact that they are ineffective and have been associated with higher rates of teen pregnancy. Not only that, but abstinence programs often exclude and shame LGBT youth — the exact opposite of what they need.
To give you the impact of what this bill would do to just the millions of women, men and families who rely on Title X, consider these fast facts:
Title X health centers provided more than 1 million Pap tests and breast exams to 1.6 million women in 2013 alone.
Also in 2013, Title X provided 6.8 million tests for STIs, including nearly 1.2 million HIV tests. The Title X program also gives millions of people access to birth control
What’s more, Planned Parenthood health centers provide preventive care to approximately 1.5 million women served by the Title X program — roughly one-third of the Title X program’s clients.
Title X offers preventive health care services to those most in need. Ninety percent of Title X clients have incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and 63 percent are uninsured.
If this bill passes, it would have a devastating impact on women — especially women in rural communities and low-income women who rely on Planned Parenthood and other safety-net providers for affordable birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, HIV testing, and other essential care that Planned Parenthood health centers provide every day.
Eliminating Title X is so beyond terrible that we know the impact will be massive, but we can only look to the states to see real examples of the type of pain it can cause. Here’s just one: Texas, 2011.
In the words of Diane Dunn, a Planned Parenthood patient from Waco, Texas: “Planned Parenthood helped me when I could not get in anywhere else for care — no one else would help me. I’m now cancer-free. I don’t know where I would be without Planned Parenthood.”
We can’t let that happen to the entire nation of low-income people who rely on Title X.
By defunding Title X, politicians are attacking Planned Parenthood. But it’s not just Planned Parenthood that’s under attack — it's the 1 in 5 women in America who has turned to Planned Parenthood health centers for care.
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