Baker cuts funding for birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment while threats to national health programs loom.

 

BOSTON -- Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM) and the Massachusetts Family Planning Association criticized Governor Charlie Baker’s decision to cut $181,802 from the state’s vital family planning funding. The state’s family planning program plays a critical role in keeping Massachusetts residents healthy, and the loss of funding will diminish access to critical preventive health services like cancer screenings, birth control and STI screening and treatment.

“For many women, Massachusetts’ investment in family planning services makes the difference between having access to cancer screenings and birth control and forgoing health care altogether,” Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, president and CEO of PPLM, said.  “Governor Baker’s decision to cut funding for this vital state program will make it more difficult for patients, particularly low-income women, to access the preventive care they need at a time when the future of sexual and reproductive health care access is already in jeopardy.”

Governor Baker’s decision is particularly worrisome given the uncertainty around the Affordable Care Act and the risks to women’s health posed by the incoming Trump Administration.

“Across the country, millions of people are facing the possibility of losing the benefits of the Affordable Care Act or being blocked from affordable, preventive care at Planned Parenthood health centers. This is a time for the Governor to protect his constituents from those harmful policies, not back away from the state’s commitment to ensure everyone has access to health care,” Childs-Roshak said.

“As essential community providers, we understand firsthand what happens when patients cannot access the preventive services they need,” said Lynda Sampson, chair of the Massachusetts Family Planning Association and director of Family Planning at Citizens for Citizens, Inc. “Not only do these cuts deprive low-income women the ability to access the basic health care they need and deserve, these cuts are counter to Governor Baker’s goal to reduce government spending.”

In the absence of publicly supported family planning services, the rates of unintended pregnancy, unplanned birth and abortion would be 40 percent higher in Massachusetts. Investment in family planning is also cost effective: for every $1 the state invests in this program, $7.09 is saved in taxpayer funding. More than 300,000 Massachusetts women and families use publicly funded family planning centers for basic health care.  These centers provide essential preventive and clinical care to Massachusetts women who would otherwise be unable to afford such care. 

“At a time when politicians across the country insist on politicizing women’s health, Massachusetts must become a leader in promoting and expanding access to women’s health and protecting reproductive rights,” Sampson said. “We are counting on the Massachusetts legislature to restore the Baker Administration’s cuts to the state’s family planning program so that family planning providers can continue to offer a wide range of preventive health care services and fully meet the needs of Massachusetts families.”